Opinions


Do you ever read the opinion section in the newspaper and wonder: “Who Cares?”

I tend to follow politics and news because it fascinates me, but every so often I’ll hear an argument that strikes me as asinine. When I read about Texas officials attacking the renewable energy industry after the polar vortex knocked out power to their (mostly fueled by fossil fuels) state I had to scratch my head. I couldn’t see how pointing fingers at wind turbines could help any of the people who were left without power and heat for days. It seemed like a pretty cheap way to score political points and push an anti-environment agenda.

But the merits and downfalls of renewable energy versus fossil fuels are beyond the scope of this blog and almost completely beside the point. I don’t understand why this debate brings out such animosity in people.

OK, maybe I shouldn’t say that. I recycle, compost, eat a plant-based diet and recently switched my energy supplier to a company more focused on renewables, carbon offsets and green energy. I’m something of an environmentalist and can understand people protesting the Keystone XL pipeline, strapping themselves to bulldozers and not buying products that contribute to deforestation. What I find so hard to understand is why people get so upset about recycling, composting and solar panels. I can understand why a coal miner or a guy at the power plant might worry about losing their jobs, but why should I care? Why do people get so riled up to defend the coal and oil industries? Do oil barons really need our help that much?

But more to the point: Why does everyone need to have an opinion about everything? My favorite thing about social media is scrolling through countless cat pictures and the worst thing is hearing everyone’s opinion about inconsequential shit like Nike and k-pods. Yeah, sometimes it’s nice to have discussions and hear different ideas, but I don’t usually go to Facebook for highbrow political commentary. What I see on Facebook is usually Joe Blow who fills the vending machines at work repeating something he heard one of the talking heads on TV get riled up about. There are better sources of information than that.

And don’t forget. I’m not an expert in much of anything. Usually, I only share my opinions to try to get a laugh.

A few months ago I was tagged in a Facebook post by someone asking my opinion about some headline and it felt great to say “I don’t have an opinion about this. I don’t know enough about the situation to form and an opinion and I don’t have enough interest to learn more.” I understand that can be construed as a somewhat asshole response, but I think we need more of that.

You don’t always need an opinion. It’s as simple as that.

Covid Jams #3


Quarantine by blink-182

Just heard this. I’m embarrassed by how much I like it! I’ve never enjoyed a blink-182 song this much!

 

Take My Breath Away by Berlin

 

Barely Breathing by Duncan Sheik

Rock The Maintenance Shop


The best thing about living in the future is all the convenient ways we have to enjoy music at work. I’m old enough to remember going to work with a portable CD player, extra AA batteries and a sleeve of discs to get me through a 12-hour shift. It was not easy getting that Discman into my pocket, but having tunes certainly made the night go by faster.

It was the greatest thing in the world when I finally got an MP3 player that had way more storage than the old CD sleeve and way more battery life than those AAs. Sadly, I’ve moved on from the mindless grunt work where I could listen to music or podcasts all day and now I have to interact with people regularly. I’m sure some people can make it work talking to others with only one earbud in place, but I’ve never been able to manage.

Fortunately, this job provides a Samsung tablet that not only provides detailed instructions on the tasks I’m to complete, but also allows me to download the music-listening app of my choice.

I was a big fan of Play Music, but I lost that tablet. The one I use lately has a ton of apps on it. The person who had it before me must not have known if they wanted to use Tuning Radio, Pandora or iHeartRadio. I’m a Spotify man myself. I love how you search for enough of the stuff you like and eventually it makes a great playlist for you filled with stuff you didn’t even know you liked.

But for a while last summer/fall I had a tablet without any of these apps and I had to use YouTube. YouTube is an OK app for listening to tunes at work, but it doesn’t have much variety. I liked this around Halloween when it kept playing The Misfits and The Ramones’ “Pet Semetary” for me but overall it’s not great to listen to the same song over and over.

I was using that tablet when I got stuck on a kick of a certain song by the Clash and my co-workers…

Well, they re-ee-ah-leee didn’t like it.

“I Don’t Wanna Grow Up”


I really love those “Original vs. The Cover” posts I see occasionally where a blogger explores how different artists have played the same song and usually arrive at some sort of judgement as to who did a better version.

I’d like to do a post like that about one of my new favorite songs, but unfortuately I’m at a complete loss as to who gave the better performance.

The Original: Tom Waits

I was a little late to the Tom Waits camp and I still don’t know much of his catalog, but over the past few months I’ve come around. I find myself enjoying his gravelly voice and the unusual instrumentation on a lot of his tracks. It sounds more like avant-garde coffee house music than rock and roll, but more often than not he finds a way to bring this artiness together into something pleasing for the ears.

The wacky music video didn’t hurt my opinion of his take on this song. Even Beavis and Butthead gave it two thumbs up.

The Cover: The Ramones

I’ve known the Ramones version of this song for quite a while. It’s a little different in structure than their usual verse/chorus/verse formula, but still right up their alley. One of the things I love about the Ramones is their unapologetic immaturity and singing “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up” is the best example of this since “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue.” The simple, loud guitar/bass/drums played really fast formula is the perfect foil for the experimental approach of Waits.

I remember reading someone say that the Ramones doing a cover of Tom Waits legitimized them in his eyes, but for me it was the exact opposite. Hearing the greatest American rock band of all time do one of his songs is what made me take another look at Waits and my musical knowledge is all the better for it.

I love how cartoonish the Ramones are. I think this is the video they seem most comfortable in aside from the classic “Spiderman.”

While I can’t really say for certain which version I think it better, I can comfortable say that that second to last line (“How the hell did I get here so soon?”) is far and away my favorite and probably responsible for my love of this song.

What do you think? Who did it better?

Wasting My Time


I don’t understand why I keep seeing girls on Facebook bitching about guys wasting their time. That seems like an unhealthy way to judge past relationships. I’ve been on dates where I never talked to that person again, but it didn’t feel like a waste of time. There have been girls I’ve gone out with a handful of times and it didn’t work out, but I never looked at it like it was a waste of time. Some of my past relationships have felt like a waste of time, but it’s not like I was doing something so important I couldn’t take a break.

Honestly, my whole goal with dating is to find someone I enjoy wasting my time with. I thought that was what dating was. Maybe I’m doing it wrong.

Maybe that’s why I have such trouble getting a girl to have coffee with me. Maybe I should ask them to get together and read Proust or come up with ideas to end world hunger.

I mean, if they look at trying to find a life partner as a waste of time they must be doing some pretty important stuff.

A Sigh of Relief…


If you had told me eight years ago that Barack Obama’s successor would be a more divisive figure than he was there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell I would have believed you.

I voted for Obama in 2008 largely based on his promise to help unite the country after we grew move divided under George W Bush. I was really taken with his whole “There is no red America or blue America, there is the United States of America.” Obviously, this message of unity didn’t make it far and Obama proved to be an extremely polarizing figure. By 2012 I think everybody knew that he wouldn’t be any type of grand unifier and he was reelected on his liberal credentials instead of any promise of hope.

I know I’m not alone in breathing a massive sigh of relief that the man who capitalized on those divisions is going to be out of a job in about two months. Sure, he got the second most votes as any presidential candidate in American history, which tells us that those divisions are still alive, well and not going anywhere; but the man who ran on a platform of uniting us and returning us to normalcy won the most.

Now, I don’t have the same type of hope in Joe Biden in 2020 that I did for Obama in 2008. I’ve grown up a lot since then. I’m no longer so naive. But the best cause for us to celebrate is that we’re going to have a leader who won’t be fanning the flames of division, anger and racial resentment. We’re not going to have a bully using his bully pulpit to say his opponents need to be roughed up, unflattering news is fake and that any statement against him is treason.

The country isn’t going to magically become a utopia on January 20, 2021 but I think we’re taking a step in the right direction. And goddammit that’s good enough for me.

Cloud Atlas


I finally watched all of Cloud Atlas. It only took 8 years. And I had to spread it over three nights.

It’s not a horrible movie, but it’s a lot like an Ayn Rand novel. Some parts were really boring but you had to wade through them to get to the good bits and it was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long.

It also seemed to be trying to say something really deep and meaningful that sort of took away from my enjoyment of the final product.

So yeah, exactly like Ayn Rand.

Corona Jams #2


When I did the first Corona Jams post I was torn between wanting it to become a series and just having it be a one-off. On the one hand, I’m always happy to have something quick and easy to post about, but the length of this series is entirely dependent on how long COVID-19 stays in the news. And the longer it’s in the news, the more destruction it’s wreaking on all of us.

So honestly, I was pretty happy when it seemed like it would be a one-off post and we had gotten a handle on the pandemic.

But what a difference a fortnight makes! I watched the number of active cases in my county double over a week and hotspots spring up all over the country. I had hoped to take a fishing trip to Lake Erie this weekend but I opted to head to a closer-to-home lake instead.

If this is the meaning of “America First” I think we should pass. It’s too bad so many of my neighbors are enthralled by conspiracy theories and refuse to wear face masks as some limp political protest.

Ah well, here are some more songs to enjoy in quarantine.


Isolation by John Lennon

 

Don’t Stand So Close to Me by the Police

 

Keep it Chill in the East Ville by Jeffrey Lewis