Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Worst Things That Have Ever Happened To Me, Vol. I

In the true spirit of the "internets" (which, as we all know is a "series of tubes"), I am stealing. In this particular case, the victim of my larcenous ways is The Official Site of Grant Miller [Note to self: add a link some day], more specifically "The Worst Things That Have Ever Happened To Me" (i.e. Him). But, it's OK, because he's finished his list.

So, along comes Haahnster. Except, of course, I have no list, as that would require advanced planning on my part, which only happens in scenarios under which I am receiving a paycheck.

Today, something terrible happened to me.

I was in the garage and found an old bag of potatoes. I should say a plastic bag which once contained potatoes. At this point, it was basically a plastic bag filled with some unidentifiable liquid substance...

...and maggots, many, many maggots.

A weaker man might've been overwhelmed with nausea. I headed straight for the blog. Actually, I headed straight for the garbage can, then the sink to wash my hands, then the blog.

Good day.

Friday, September 29, 2006

This Is My 250th Post


In case I am unsuccessful in my (minimal) efforts to scan a school photo, I give you this reasonable facsimile (see above).

250 posts in 9 months, I rule!!!
  • Popular (and not-so-popular) music
  • Movies
  • TV
  • Food
  • Baby Emily photos
  • A little politics/current events bitching

What started as an album-by-album review of Neil Young's music has grown into a little something for everyone to hate. Have a nice weekend.

As Fine As You Are

While we're talking about the '80s, let's take a look at the soundtrack of my 8th grade year, Van Halen's 1984 (1984) -- huh huh huh, he said "1984" twice. Released in early January, this was a mega-hit. In fact, it reached #2 on the charts, held out of the top spot by some piece of shit called Thriller.

1984 was the 6th and final release by the original Van Halen line-up, or as I simply call them, the real Van Halen. The '80s were an awkward decade, and 13-going-on-14 is an awkward age. These are a couple of the factors that contributed to the pervasive impression that future Vegas sideshow David Lee Roth was about the coolest guy on two feet. But, I digress.

This album was not without its controversy amongst hardcore Van Halen fans. After all, keyboards played a prominent role in what had always been a guitar-driven band. In any event...

"1984" is just a little, one-minute-long synthesizer instrumental, leading into the hugely popular (many said, "sell-out" -- as if that could even apply to Van Halen) lead single. "Jump" was a #1 hit that sold something ridiculous like 3 million copies. It holds a special place in my heart because it served as WGN TV's theme song for Cubs broadcasts for many years.

"Panama" is one of those ultra-catchy, classic Van Halen tunes with Eddie's guitar riffs, Alex's thunderous drums, and Michael's booming bass. And, of course, there was the quintessential Roth cheese ("Reach down between my legs[PAUSE]and ease the seat back").

"Top Jimmy" has some of Eddie's coolest sounding guitar work. "Drop Dead Legs" is almost ZZ Top-Eliminator-esque in its heavy guitar/bass combo.

"Hot For Teacher" has a drum intro that seems to approximate the starting of a Harley. The guitar solo is Eddie at some of his Eddie-est. Roth throws in some classic spoken-word stuff ("I don't feel tardy"). And, the video was among the biggest hits in the still-early days of MTV. (Remember music videos?)

"I'll Wait" is the best song on the album. It's based around a catchier-than-catchy synth bit and too-cool drum rolls. The middle is a guitar solo in which Eddie channels Hendrix. This was the song I always played in 8th grade and early high school when I would pretend I was going to have the guts to ask a girl out. (I was such a shy boy.)

After the uninterrupted string of classics above, the album finishes with two songs I really didn't remember before I dusted this puppy off last night:

"Girl Gone Bad" has all the early Van Halen ingredients in mostly the right proportions. It's actually a pretty darned good song. I just used to pick up the needle and replay "I'll Wait" over and over, so I don't remember this one.

Likewise for "House Of Pain." It's heavyish, with nice guitar work, and some S&M innuendo in the lyrics. The vocals have some mildly annoying effects. Then, there's a little "ah ah, ah ah" break almost reminiscent of Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog" that leads directly into an abrupt fade-out that makes me wonder if this was really a finished song or not. Interesting.

So, bottom line, this one probably isn't on too many people's lists of "best" albums. But, it probably should/could be...especially if you were a 13-going-on-14-year-old Cub fan when it came out.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Never Let Me Down

Reading Beth's excellent review of David Bowie's early-'70s classic Hunky Dory, I was reminded that it's been far too long since I listened to any Bowie. My initial reaction was to reach for another early-'70s classic of his, say Ziggy Stardust (actually The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - gotta love that title).

Instead, I reached for one of Bowie's least-acclaimed albums, Never Let Me Down (1987). Witness the following from Wikipedia:

"Never Let Me Down is an album by David Bowie, released April 1987. It drew some of the harshest criticism of Bowie's career, condemned by critics as a faceless piece of product and ignored by the public—Bowie himself openly apologised in an interview for the album being so bad. Defenders of the album maintain that many of its songs are underrated and that Bowie at this time was simply facing the inevitable backlash of an overexposed superstar and argue that the singles 'Day-In, Day-Out' and 'Time Will Crawl' are actually rather good songs. The album certainly works better as a coherent piece compared to its predecessor, Tonight.

The album was one of the first to feature different mixes on vinyl and CD, with the latter being generally longer. 'Too Dizzy' has the dubious status of being deleted from subsequent reissues of the album, most likely because of the irony-free borderline misogyny of the lyrics.

Tracks from Never Let Me Down formed the backbone of Bowie's highly theatrical Glass Spider world tour in 1988."

Now, I'll have to take another listen before I'm ready to pass any final judgment. However, I'll come out and say right now that "Day-In, Day-Out" and "Time Will Crawl" are "rather good" songs. In fact, "Time Will Crawl" is an excellent song, in my oh-so-humble opinion.

I might write more on this album later, not sure. In any event, thanks to Beth for getting me back into Bowie!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Let's Hear It For The Two-Party System

Looking to be further disillusioned with the current two-party system dominant in U.S. politics? Well, look no further than the 2006 race for Governor of Illinois.

Mind you, this isn't a small state. In fact, we are 6th out of 50 in total population (behind only California, Texas, New York, Florida and some other damned state I don't recall at the moment...maybe Pennsylvania? I'm too lazy to look it up).

Anyway, these are our major party candidates:

Republican: Judy Baar-Topinka
Democrat: Rod Blagojevich (incumbent)

Now, Judy looks like the genetic cross of Judge Judy and a baboon's ass. She also has been serving as state treasurer of the state (good ol' Illinois) with the largest debt of any state in the nation. She's one of the last of the insiders from the administration of now-disgraced former Governor George Ryan (Republican).

Blago, on the other hand, is now appearing to be every bit as corrupt as Ryan was. And, he's a dufus. I mean, he's an embarrassment of cartoonish proportions. And, of course, he's governor of the most indebted state in the nation.

Chicago politics is crooked, always has been. Illinois state politics has been following suit for some time now, as well. So, these are our choices.

Can you say, "voter apathy?"

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

One Minute With Ice Cube, Vol. II

Ice Cube Leaves L.A.
“Catch a flight to St. Louis/That’s cool 'cause nobody knew us”

Ice Cube Establishes a Business in the Midwest
“Bust a cap/And outta there in a hurry/Wouldn’t you know?/A drive-by in Missouri”

Ice Cube Encounters Resistance from the Competition
“My homey got shot/He’s a goner, black/St. Louis n*gg*z/Want they corner back”

This has been One Minute With Ice Cube. Now, back to your regularly-scheduled delusions…

Friday, September 22, 2006

'Cause It's Friday. You Ain't Got No Job. And You Ain't Got Sh*t To Do

Actually, I am at work, of course. That's just how my life goes these days. Far be it from me to complain.

I don't want to reveal any confidences, but...Hypothetically, a hypothetical almost-13-year-old girl that hypothetically might live in my house received a note in her locker from a boy wanting to sit next to her at lunch. Now, is that 7th Grade, or is that 7th Grade?!! Congrats to her. That is the absolute essence of a 7th Grade social life. I'm happy for her...hypothetically.

[Note: check back over the next two years for stories of me having to take a ball bat to the cabezas (and/or cojones) of would be suitors...the freakin' bastards...]

Emily is undergoing another round of teething (looks like 2 more are almost through), so last night was really a restless one.

I heard "Tuesday Afternoon" on the radio the other day (Tuesday, coincidentally enough...cough, cough). Diagnosis: Moody Blues...still sound pretentious as hell after all these years. (See, Rob, I didn't use "overproduced.")

By the way, I'm looking for a school photo of mine to scan in for this wacky October 1st thing I keep reading about. (I know it should be "about which I keep reading" -- sue me.)

Have a great day.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Happy Birthday To You

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday, dear wife-y

Happy birthday to you

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


I have absolutely nothing to say at this very instant, and I have no time to stop to think of something. I'll try later. Sorry.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

One Minute With Ice Cube, Vol. I

Ice Cube on dance fads:
"Fuck R&B and the runnin’ man/'Cause I’m the one who stands/With the gun in hand"

Ice Cube on STD prevention:
"You should-a put a sock on the pickle/Then your pussy wouldn’t be blowin’ smoke signals"

Ice Cube on foreign & domestic policy:
"You wanna free Africa, I’ll stare at ya/We ain’t got it too good in America"

This has been One Minute With Ice Cube. Now, back to your regularly-scheduled delusions…

Monday, September 18, 2006

Bob On Bob

Hey, I know Bob Dylan has a new CD out. I need to get off my ass and get it. Meanwhile, a friend loaned me his copy of the latest Bob Mould disc, Body of Song (2005). Not too damned bad, if I do say so my damned self. Mr. Mould wrote all the songs, provided the vocals, and played the guitar, keyboards, and most of the bass.

1. "Circles" - Keyboards and effects provide the intro, leading into Bob Mould's distinctive vocals. This song is fairly heavy, with rather Husker Du-ish guitars, and it deals with a common theme in this disc: loneliness ("Nobody deserves to be lonely/No one should be left alone because/Time doesn't wait, it will only accelerate/As the days and the months and the years go by").

2. "(Shine Your) Love Light Hope" - This track has a nice, driving beat. The vocals (with effects) repeat the same lines several times: "Shine your light, your love, your hope/Hold it in your hands so tight/Beam it from your eyes at night/So I can find my way."

3. "Paralyzed" - This is probably my favorite song on this CD. It has a catchy hook and beat, with the edginess I really like in Mould's vocals. My favorite line: "I wished for things that sadly have come true."

4. "I Am Vision, I Am Sound" - Strong beat and crunchy guitars, but the vocal delivery is not my favorite, certainly lacking the anger/edge that punctuates Mould's better vocal performances.

5. "Underneath Days" - This is a heavy, plodding number. "Fucked underneath days/Fucked under these ways"...nice and dark.

6. "Always Tomorrow" - This one gets the award for the most throbbing bass line. It also has a particularly throaty vocal delivery that really fits the utter desperation in the lyrics.

7. "Days Of Rain" - This one's slow and mellow, bordering on sappy. In fact, I think it crosses that border, probably making this my least favorite on the album.

8. "Best Thing" - Faster guitar, the chords jump out in the listener's face--shit, this is Husker Du reborn! "You just lost the best thing you never had." Maybe this is my favorite song. If not, it's right there with "Paralyzed."

9. "High Fidelity" - Slow and melodic, melancholy and desperately longing..."Can I be the only person who gets no fruit off the tree?" He almost has me buying it, until the goofy chimes at about the 2:30 mark. Yikes.

10. "Missing You" - This is another very Husker Du-ish tune. It probably has the 2nd best guitar work on the CD (see #12 below)...another of my favorites on this disc.

11. "Gauze Of Friendship" - Yes, that's "gauze," not "gaze." What's next, the band-aid of casual acquaintance? But, I digress. This is Bob Mould doing a power ballad. He follows the formula to a tee. You be the judge.

12. "Beating Heart The Prize" - Great, great guitar pervades this track. What a stinging, blistering rocker to close with! "Slapped across the face..." I love it.

Haahnster recommends you consider checking into this one.

Friday, September 15, 2006

One Advantage Of A Spotty Memory

I knew I liked my old vinyl copy of Santana's Abraxas (1970). However, I'd forgotten that I had also purchased it on CD, until I went to put away Raising Hell by Run DMC. "Ru" being in fairly close proximity to "Sa" led to the pleasant surprise afforded by my lack of memory. "Hey," I thought to myself, "I can take that Santana CD to work."

1. Singing Winds, Crying Beasts (Carabello) – 4:48
2. Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen (Peter Green)/(Gabor Szabo) – 5:24
3. Oye Como Va (Tito Puente) – 4:19
4. Incident at Neshabur (Gianquinto/Santana) – 5:02
5. Se a Cabo (Areas) – 2:51
6. Mother's Daughter (Rolie) – 4:28
7. Samba Pa Ti (Santana) – 4:47
8. Hope You're Feeling Better (Rolie) – 4:07
9. El Nicoya (Areas) – 1:32

Personnel: Carlos Santana - lead guitar, vocals; Gregg Rolie - keyboards, vocals; Dave Brown - bass guitar; Mike Shrieve - drums; Jose Areas - timbales, conga; Mike Carabello - conga

This album is so totally cool it's almost absurd. I love it. It's a truly amazing fusion of blues, jazz and Latin music, all through a psychedelic rock filter. Several songs are entirely instrumental, and others are mostly instrumental. However, the vocals, when present, are quite good. The keyboards are cool, and there's a ton of percussion. Of course, Santana's uniquely excellent, instantly recognizable guitar sound takes center stage. Plus, you have to love an album title pulled from a novel by Hermann Hesse (Demian, in this case).

Briefly, track by track:
1. Classic instrumental with a piano intro, and great, screaming guitar.
2. An all-time classic version of a great song, blended with an instrumental. Check out the ridiculously cool little, high-pitched, "tingly" guitar sound just after the 4:30 mark of this song.
3. Another classic rock radio favorite, originally written by Tito Puente.
4. Instrumental which shifts to a much slower tempo just before the 3:00 mark. Very cool.
5. Ass-kicking guitar dominates the first 1:30 of the song. The only vocals are several repetitions of the title.
6. Mighty fine vocal performance by Mr. Rolie, Santana provides some psychedelic guitar - heavy, but with crazy fluidity.
7. Instrumental with a bluesy intro, and fast, incredible guitar.
8. Nice organ/percussion intro, more cool Rolie vocals, and heavy, yet stinging guitar from Carlos, really picking up the pace around 2 minutes in.
9. Short little closing number with chant-like group vocals.

Abraxas was listed at #205 on the RS list. And, ya gotta love that cover art...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

"God damn, that DJ made my day!"

Released at the beginning of 1986, Run DMC's Raising Hell was a landmark album. To a snot-nosed, soon-to-be-16-year-old, it was a revelation. The heavy guitar riffs and thunderous, sledgehammer beats crossed over to take my white world by storm. And, the collaboration with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry on a remake of the classic "Walk This Way" revived a deader than dead career for Aerosmith.

Peter Piper – 3:25
It's Tricky – 3:03
My Adidas – 2:47
Walk This Way – 5:11
Is It Live – 3:06
Perfection – 2:52
Hit It Run – 3:10
Raising Hell – 5:31
You Be Illin' – 3:26
Dumb Girl – 3:31
Son of Byford – :27
Proud to Be Black – 3:14

Deluxe Edition bonus tracks:
My Adidas (a capella) - 2:32
Walk This Way (demo) - 5:26
Lord of Lyrics (demo) - 4:30
Raising Hell Radio Tour Spot - 0:53
Live at the Apollo Raw Vocal Commercial - 3:28

Some of Haahnster's favorite rhymes include:

He's the big bad wolf in your neighborhood,
Not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good!
(from “Peter Piper”)

When I wake up people take up mostly all of my time
I'm not singin', phone keep ringin' cause I make up a rhyme
(from “It’s Tricky”)

It's McDaniels not McDonald's
These rhymes are Darryl's, but the burgers are Ronald's!
(from “Hit It Run”)

Hanging in the heavens on the sound supreme
So clear to the ear it is sometimes seen

Mysterious is serious, I ain't no joke
Fire from the depths of hell, and you can smell the smoke
Kicking and ticking while you're having a ball
Like chicken finger-lickin I'll be flicking you all
Don't do the bird, have you heard? Did they give you a call?

Just me and DMC cold shakin the wall
(from “Raising Hell”)

The way Joseph "Run" Simmons and Darryl "DMC" McDaniels traded rhymes, often in mid-word, sometimes in mid-syllable, was both artful and entertaining. The late Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell provided the scratching, and Run's brother, Russell "Rush" Simmons and the mighty Rick Rubin provided the production. Great stuff, even for the casual rap fan.

Fun Raising Hell facts:
  • Raising Hell peaked at #1 on Billboard's R&B/Hip Hop Album chart, and at #6 on the Billboard 200.
  • The album achieved triple-platinum status.
  • "Walk This Way" became the first rap song to crack the top 5 of The Billboard Hot 100.
  • Raising Hell was ranked # 120 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Still # 1, Baby!!!

For all of our problems, the United States still has to be the greatest country in history.

Exhibit A: This dork became the richest man in the world. The defense rests.

I Can Always Sleep Standing Up

That there title I wrote to this here post is quite "ironical," as I just awoke (awakened? -- too tired to sort out the grammar) from a semi-slumber and cannot seem to return to sleep in any position whatso-fucking-ever. Alas. I have really been digging R.E.M.'s Automatic For The People (1992) lately, might as well write about it now...

This album was released in early October 1992. I had graduated from the University of Illinois in May 1992 a jobless, depressed loser. I had held on to my college apartment throughout the summer until the lease's end in August. When I finally had returned home a penniless, wayward soul, I held a cashier's job at a gas station/convenience store for a few weeks before ultimately settling on a career in restaurant management. My training began in October 1992. Dark and brooding, Automatic For The People was the soundtrack of my life. Four looooong years later, restaurant management proved not to be my career path after all. However, I still enjoy the album quite a bit.

Drive – 4:31
Try Not To Breathe – 3:50
The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite – 4:06
Everybody Hurts – 5:17
New Orleans Instrumental No. 1 – 2:13
Sweetness Follows – 4:19
Monty Got a Raw Deal – 3:17
Ignoreland – 4:24
Star Me Kitten – 3:15
Man on the Moon – 5:13
Nightswimming – 4:16
Find the River – 3:50

[All songs written by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe.]

A few highlights:

"Drive" has always reminded me more than a bit of a song from my early childhood, "Rock On" by David Essex (...still lookin' for that blue jean baby queen...), especially since that lame-ass soap opera guy (Michael Damian?) had remade the song in the late '80s. That remake changed the chorus from "Hey, did ya rock 'n roll" to "Hey, kids, rock 'n roll." I always figured Stipe was keying off that in an ironic way. Great song, in any case.

"The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite" is just one catchy mo-fo of a song, and probably the closest thing to an upbeat, feel-good number on the entire disc.

"Everybody Hurts" is intended as an anti-suicide song, but might be depressing enough to have the opposite effect on some listeners. "Man On The Moon" is such a damned cool song that the 1999 biographical movie about late comedian Andy Kaufman was named after it.

There really isn't a total stinker on the entire CD. Listen to it. It calms the savage beast lurking in the deepest recesses of my soul. I suppose there's just one more cut I'll write about:

"Nightswimming" Wow! What a classic! It's impossible for me to fully describe all that this song captures for me emotionally. Childhood fears...adolescent awkwardness...coming of age...I really cannot put my finger on just what it is exactly. "They cannot see me naked," is such a cool line. And, Stipe's vocal delivery is the aural equivalent of indelible ink. Great song. Truly great.

Oh, I almost forgot, because I've long since given up on caring about the infamous RS list. In any event, this album was #247 of 500. And, no, I'm not oblivious to the fact that string arrangements pervade this entire album (string arrangements by former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, nonetheless). Normally, I hate string arrangements. Here, I think they're damned near perfect. [Note to Rob: I'm inching closer to eliminating overproduced from my vocabulary; I'll stick to "poorly produced," as needed.]

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

See The Sky About To Rain

See the sky about to rain,
broken clouds and rain.
Locomotive, pull the train,
whistle blowing
through my brain.
Signals curling on an open plain,
rolling down the track again.
See the sky about to rain.

Some are bound for happiness,
some are bound to glory
Some are bound to live with less,
who can tell your story?

See the sky about to rain,
broken clouds and rain.
Locomotive, pull the train,
whistle blowin'
through my brain.
Signals curlin' on an open plain,
rollin' down the track again.
See the sky about to rain.

I was down in Dixie Land,
played a silver fiddle
Played it loud and then the man
broke it down the middle.
See the sky about to rain.

This morning, it looked like it was about to rain as I walked from where I'd parked my car across the street to the office in which I work. I was beginning to regret not going up two more flights of stairs to the skywalk from the parking deck to the office. I felt a few small rain drops hit me. It was somewhat refreshing. Then, I recalled my childhood theory that rain on my face was God pissing on me.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Where In Holy F*ck Is...?

Welcome to the first installment of what might end up being a regular feature here at HH: Where In Holy F*ck Is...?

In this case, it would be grammatically correct to say Where In Holy F*ck Are...? because the subject is (are?) Hootie & The Blowfish.

Where In Holy F*ck Are Hootie & The Blowfish?

Ti-i-i-i-i-ime...why you punish me?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

How 'Bout Those Buckeyes?!

Illinois 0
Rutgers 33

Just to let you know I'm not oblivious to the complete toilet in which my alma mater's football program is swirling as we speak. But, oh well. Anyway...

Ohio State 24
Tex-ass 7

"Hook 'em horns," my ass! Texas was one ridiculous roughing the passer call away from being shut the f*ck out at home. OSU might be #1 for a reason...

PS - Da BEARS at Green Bay this afternoon. Down with the (fudge) Packers...


Da BEARS 99 (33 field goals)
Packers 0

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Couple Quick Recent Headlines

Senate finds no al-Qaida-Saddam link

Shocking! Obviously, the liberal-leaning Senate has succumbed to the liberal bias in the liberal media (e.g. Fox News).

Reaction mixed to Schwarzenegger remarks

Schwarzenegger has solved a mystery of epic proportions by determining the source of Cuban and Puerto Rican tempers: it's their mix of "part of the black blood in them and part of the Latino blood." The culmination of decades of genetic research, I'm certain.

More later...

Thursday, September 07, 2006



I'm ready for almost anymotherfuckinthing after the last few weeks. This week has been absolutely INSANE at work. After working most of the weekend, including about 15 hours on Labor Day, it's been more looooong days this week. The good news: this is the culmination of a project that has been kicking my ass for over 6 months now. One more more day...

I'm mellowing out to some REM Automatic For The People right now. All I can say is I am definitely one sidewinder that sleeps tonight.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

F*ck This Becker Kid

Farewell, Andre Agassi.

As a fellow 36-year-old, I feel your pain. Shit, I can't even stay awake as late as I used to as a younger man. I cannot begin to imagine attempting to play competitive tennis against opponents 10-15 years younger.

PS - To the biological offspring of Andre Agassi and Stefi Graf, don't even think about picking up a tennis racket. The expectations will crush you. Guaranteed. To quote the old H&O song, "You can rely on the old man's money..." Do something else you enjoy. Trust me.