Saturday, October 28, 2006

Friday, October 27, 2006


This is a link friend Jolly Roger provided over at Tom Harper's excellent blog "Who Hijacked Our Country?" (see my links). Jolly Roger can be read at his excellent blog "Reconstitution" (again, see my links)!

Remember, as Rush Limbaugh would say, the following is "for entertainment only"!


By Queen
Words and music by roger taylor

The machine of a dream
Such a clean machine

With the pistons a pumpin
And the hub caps all gleam
When I'm holdin your wheel
All I hear is your gear
When my hand's on your grease gun
Oh its like a disease, son

Im in love with my car
Gotta feel for my automobile

Get a grip on my boy racer rollbar
Such a thrill when your radials squeal
Told my girl Ill have to forget her
Rather buy me a new carburetor

So she made tracks sayin
This is the end now
Cars dont talk back
They're just four wheeled friends now

When I'm holdin your wheel
All I hear is your gear
When I'm cruisin in overdrive
Dont have to listen to no run of the mill talk jive
Im in love with my car
Gotta feel for my automobile
Im in love with my car
String back gloves in my automolove

That's my favorite Queen song, and I'm not sure but it might be the only one Freddie Mercury didn't do lead vocals on!! The drummer wrote it and sang it... it is a wonderfully ridiculous tune!!

My computer is being cranky about letting me post photos. I will keep trying to post a shot of my other car, a blue 06 Prius (the only mostly driven by me). The above shot is of an 07 Camry hybrid (mostly driven by Kit). I AM in love with these cars...! Gotta feel for my automobile.

They don't quite get the mileage advertised, but I am very satisfied. The Prius is designed to get the best performance in stop-and-go "crawling", i.e. getting stuck in traffic jams. We don't have a lot of that out here in NE Oregon, so instead of 60 mpg in town the car is rated at, I get about 42. I can get up to 51 mpg on the highway, which is what Toyota advertises. The Camry is advertised at 38 mpg on the highway and 36 in town... I can get 48 to 50 mpg on the highway with it, and about 35 in town. It is like a 4-cylinder Camry but with some hybrid technology to augment the gas mileage. Both cars do best on level or downhill routes, and in town. Going uphill, they get about 20 mpg. Anyway, the amount of money we save every month in gasoline costs is WAY more than the $33 per month we added in total car payments, as the cars we had before got about 20 mpg apiece combined city and highway. The Prius gets about 45-46 mpg combined, and the Camry about 36 to 38 combined... Besides the good mileage, I also like the idea of buying less gasoline and creating fewer emissions. I am sure there are flaws in the logic of owning and driving hybrids, but I would like these cars even if they weren't hybrids.

These cars are fun. No doubt about it! If you are interested in learning more, there are plenty of good places to look on the web.

Friday, October 20, 2006


This is Various Miseries Post #1000. I had thought of writing some manifesto that would bring to mind the insane ramblings of Ted Kaczynski, but instead I thought it would be a great time to share something really, really silly. The following link is to a very special video clip from a Japanese game show in which the contestants must say tongue twisters, or... heh!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mac has asked me to post a cat photo on this blog to let you know that there are new photos up at his place. So... Bonnie is here to let you know there are new pictures on the cat blog, if anyone is ineterested! Mackie insists on no religion or politics over there, so if you're burned out on all that stuff, check out the critters at !


Sunday, October 15, 2006


I love the music of Interpol, Joy Division, and very early U2. Editors are a nice combination of all three. Lots of good reverb, nice guitar textures, and hooky choruses. They are from the same part of England Joy Divison was from (Manchester), I believe. The singer tends to sound like Interpol's Paul Banks, and sometimes like Joy Division's late Ian Curtis, and the guitarwork brings to mind the work of U2's The Edge. Lots of dark energy here! I give it 4.5 out of 5 possible stars.

TV On The Radio's "Return to Cookie Mountain" is another one with lots of dark energy. The group has several multi-instrumentalists, most of the vocals are more than one band member singing unison, including one guy who sings in falsetto here and there... The music is dense and swirling, the drumming is incredibly good. I think the lyrics are a bit obtuse and overwrought... This is interesting stuff, not sure I have totally embraced it yet. I would still give it a 3.5 out of 5, in large part because it sounds unlike just about anything I have heard before, and in an interesting way.

I've been waiting a long time for Yo La Tengo's return to rockin' styles. The name of their new disc, "I Am Not Afraid Of You and I Will Beat Your Ass", suggests they are on the road to recovery from their last couple of albums, which were great but somewhat somnambulent. This time around, they have three songs that clock in at around nine minutes or more, lots of good guitar feedback, and some good meditational drone jams like they used to do more of. I think this is their best album since "I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One". Welcome back to rock and roll, YLT! This one is a 4.5 out of 5 for me.
The Dears' "Gang of Losers" is simply a GREAT record. Singer Murray Lightburn, who has tended to sound somewhat like a Morrisey imitator on past releases, doesn't so much this time around. The guy sings with a lot of heart and soul, and the band is in good form. There is a cut on this one called "The Ballad of Human Kindness" that I could listen to over and over... I got this one a few days ago and have listened to it three times already. Great pop/rock with interesting songwriting, with lyrics that portray a feeling of humanity's need to practice peace, love and forgiveness. It tends to be a bit dark, yet there is an upbeat feeling about it. I'd recommend you go out and get this one. I give this one 5 out of 5.
I love the Lemony Snicket "Unfortunate Events" series about the Beaudelaire Orphans, and this CD is a collection of songs done by STephen Merritt (aka The Gothic Archies) that appear on the audiobook versions of the book series. The Gothic Archies' music doesn't really sound "goth" or gothic, but it's lots of creative, melodic fun. The lyrics are sly, cynical, and often funny, and Merritt's voice is a bit reminiscent of the basso profundo-voiced guy from Crash Test Dummies. If you have read the books, this music is a near-perfect fit. If you haven't read any of Snicket's stuff, this music could inspire you to do so! For me, this is a 4 out of 5. Would you find a band frustrating if the vocalist sounded eerily like Thom Yorke of Radiohead, and if some of the music had similar chord progressions and structures to that of Radiohead... but the band wasn't Radiohead? On the other hand, are a Radiohead fan who loved their first three albums but has since been frustrated by their departure from the mainstream into the realm of spaced-out cathartic noodling? I can answer yes to both questions, and Muse's "Black Holes and Other Revelations" represents a musical possibility of what Radiohead might have sounded like or become had they not gotten onto the offbeat track after "The Bends". The music is often bombastic, and has echoes of Queen in the vocal choruses and arrangements. Despite sounding highly derivative at times, Muse still manages to sound creative and powerful. I'd give this one a 4 out of 5.

It's good to get some newer CDs by newer artists. For a long time, I've been mostly just filling in "holes" in my CD collection, getting long lost albums by favorite artists, picking up copies of "classics", etc.

There are a couple more recent acquisitions, which Blogger wouldn't let me post the cover photo of, for whatever reason.

First, I have been a big Guided By Voices fan for at least the last 10 years, and I was anxious to hear the now-defunct band's former frontman Robert Pollard's new one, "Normal Happiness". I wasn't disappointed by it, except for the fact that the 16 songs only take up about what seems like 30 minutes. He usually produces quality material, which seems impossible at times givven how prolific he is (he puts out quite a few CDs). For "Normal Happiness", Pollard did all the singing, songwriting and some guitar-playing like he usually does, and Todd Tobias did all the rest. Pollard's best cut this time around is "Supernatural Car Lover". He's known for his funky song titles... he usually thinks of the song title first, then writes the song! I think his best title this time is "Pegasus Glue Factory". People who aren't hardcore GbV/Pollard fans might not "get" Pollard's stuff, but being the fan I am, I give this effort a solid 4 out of 5!

The other one is "Continuum" by John Mayer. I never thought I would own a CD by this guy. When he was starting out, he reminded me of some frat boy trying to be like Dave Matthews and trying to play music designed to get women into bed. His last album was kind of an R & B thing, done in a trio... he displayed some good guitar chops, and his voice actually showed signs that he has testosterone in his body. That album is called "Try", and I was impressed enough by it that I got a copy of his latest. I was pissed off after the first four cuts from "Continuum" because those cuts sound like more of the bedwetter stuff he started out doing a few years ago... but then about halfway through the disc things begin to click a little. There are a few outstanding cuts, especially "Slow Dancing In a Burning Room" and "Stop This Train". This disc does contain some pretty weak pablum, but Mayer gradually shows signs that he is beginning to mature as an artist. I give "Continuum" a 3.5 out of 5, mostly for effort.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Since the passing of my father, I have felt like there is definitely something missing in my life.

Sometimes I think it is a bad thing, in that Dad was like a rock for Mom and me, and for my family. Mom is living alone now. We are close by, but she is living alone in the house, constantly reminded of Dad by the house itself and by its contents. She is staying quiet, kind of laying low, trying to relax and take life one day at a time, and I think she is handling it well. She isn't wallowing in self-pity. I don't think I am doing that, although I may be. I do notice I am much more self-aware than I was before...

But other times I find myself thinking that having someone majorly missing from one's life can also be seen as a good thing. Dad's passing represents a new sort of beginning for Mom, for me and for my family. For Mom, she will be able to do some of the things she has always wanted to do, as long as her health allows; for example she would particularly like to travel.

To me, Dad was simply an amazing human being, a well-loved and respected community member. In a town of this size (about 13,000 people), a lot of people knew Dad. People referred to him as a walking encyclopedia; he did anything he attempted extremely well. Being his only child, I have often been the object of comparisons to Dad all my life. Because I turned out so different than Dad in so many ways, these comparisons have been something of an irritant throughout my life. Never enough to make me feel pissed, but it's been there. Dad never lorded anything over me or put pressure on me to do any of the things he was so good at. He never wanted anything but for me to a happy, responsible person in life.

I would not go so far as to say I feel as if a burden has been lifted, because it isn't really like that. I miss Dad like crazy and I know I always will... his laugh, his smiling face, his kindness... but I will say I feel like I am finally, in a sense, my own person in ways I haven't allowed myself to previously feel, and that people who still want to compare me to my father, based on his accomplishments, interests and public life can go take a flying leap. I'm not my dad. There are other ways in which I want to be like him and have always wanted to be like him, but I am not him. Maybe this sounds selfish to you, but this process of separation from him makes me more painfully aware.

What Mom and Dad have taught me about life is largely what makes me who I am today. Dad was extremely conservative politically, but he was a very compassionate person. In his way, he cared about whether or not people were being treated fairly, and this extended somewhat into his political views; he definitely loved his country and he wanted the best for it. Dad always treated others as he wanted them to treat him. He was gentle and kind. THAT is what I want to try and live up to, not whether or not I can become an expert furniture refinisher, an expert gunsmith, an expert on Victorian architecture, an expert carpenter, an expert on Classical music, an expert on world history, or an expert on the Oregon Trail. I want to live up to Dad the real person, not Dad the accomplisher.

I still haven't cried many tears over the loss of Dad. Should I have? I can't tell. I know all of us grieve in different ways. I find myself being quiet, kind of distant at home, not wanting to socialize much. I felt very tired at first, but I seem to be gradually regaining some energy. I think Mom is gradually pepping up a bit too. There is a gaping hole in our lives, but we are finding ways to heal the wounds.

There are locals saying "Now that Jack is gone, who's going to step into his role as a local authority on so many things?" I have heard them say things like this, and they have looked directly at me as they have said it. Who will step in? Not me... I will leave that up to them. I have a love for Dad's areas of interest, because they were part of what made him tick, and I have always held him in awe for all his qualities. What really makes me tick? Maybe it's finally time to find that out! If fortune smiles, I have a number of years left to figure out a lot of things... and I guess now it's time to start.