WFH WTF – The Covid Files, Day 50: a year ago, ten years ago

So, a year ago was the last big outing my partner and I took for ourselves. We went to see Cirque du Sole. Like any “date night” we take, of course, it was a case of “the best laid plans of mice and men” so to speak.

We got the best tickets we could afford. Which, of course, aren’t necessarily the best seats for either of us and our many preferences for any number of reasons. Suffice it to say these days things like mild agorophobia or misanthropia (as the case may be), moderate mysophobia and vertigo (not related, mind you) and heavy New Yorkerisms abound in our critique of everything else probably seems quaint. Some of it probably is, but all of it’s still stoically applicable.

Thing is the date felt rather unspectacular and the memory almost moreso. Nothing against my partner, the company could not have been better. Reality is though that we go out so little that everything feels almost overhyped even when we’re going in with pretty moderate outward expectations. Sure, you can say “self-fulfilling prophesy” but it becomes a series of unrelenting meh.

The show was actually really good. I was impressed with the theatrics and the story line even if, honestly, some of the stunts and spectacle weren’t as good and the comedy left a little something to be desired. But, that’s neither here, nor there, in my year-after review. The problem wasn’t the Crique’s performance or even their setup. It was just people in general. The inability of drivers to follow parking instructions, or patrons to follow check in rules, or port-o-potty visitors to be orderly and clean, and so on. And, that frustration followed through to our dinner after as well.

I expect lack-lustre is going to dominate the new reality of things too. I literally have that little faith in my fellow humans. We already knew that people suck with sticking to their reservation times, lines, queues, and other orderly conduct long before whatever rules are going to be in pace for Covid-19 as things open up. We already knew people lacked respect for personal space long before Covid-19 taught some of us about in-person social distancing. We already knew people were assholes about honoring “no shirt, no shoes, no service” type of rules even before mask rules came into the conversation for Covid-19. We already knew there was a lacked empathy for those with disabilities long before Covid-19 pointed out the new group of selfish assholes that refuse to acknowledge some people require additional accommodations.

Not being on a date in a while and thinking about what the next date might look like has shown me Covid-19 has not brought out the “best” in people, but magnified the absolute “worst.” It’s empowered a bunch of deplorable assholes to think that their personal liberties are all that’s important at the expense of the health and well being of everyone around them.

Look. I’m in no great rush to wear a mask everywhere I go. I’d like to be able to sneak a romantic kiss with my partner when we’re out and about as any couple might. But, in this situation of what our next date might be like, I’m also acutely cognizant that it only takes one person who is an asymptomatic carrier to ruin it. That person could be me. That person could be my partner. That person could be you. Any of us could get sick…end up hospitalized…die. Any of us could become silent carriers to our family or friends or coworkers and any of them, or their families, or friends could get sick…end up hospitalized…die…or just be silent carriers to their families…and so on. I am self-aware. Thus, I’ll wear a mask. My partner will too. How many assholes we end up being exposed to won’t is what will dictate where we go and what we do. Any business that isn’t enforcing a mask rule, well, they won’t get our business. We would prefer to be alive. We’d prefer our family and friends and coworkers to be alive. We’d prefer their family and friends to be alive too. And, so on.

I was saddened to read a fellow hiker friend of mine was accosted along a trail near their home. They did everything right. They wore a mask themselves. They stayed to well marked and established trails with paths that are wide enough to freely pass without contact. They were prepared to temporarily de-path, to the right, for stop-and-wait crossings with fellow hikers to provide ample distance between hiking parties. They used both verbal and visual signals to provide adequate direction to their intent. They unfortunately experienced at least one self-absorbed hiker determined to confront them head on, with no mask, and no respect for their fellow hikers attempts at safe distancing and general trail courtesy. I blame this as much on Trumpublikkkan rhetoric as anything else — and, yes, I’m aware that non-hikers who are on any path for the first time ever are abound who might not know better, as well as I’m aware than even among experienced hikers there’s a bit of snottiness in how they traverse trails.

This story, however, felt like a sign-of-the-times kind of lesson.

Sure, shitbags cloaked in MAGA red hats, Confederate iconography, Gadsden flags, Nazi iconography, NRA emblems, KKK iconography, revisionist American flags, and so on routinely ruin things for the rest of us. I’ve experienced their approach first hand in my domestic travels the last few years (and versions of these, albeit less-so, in my many years of travels worldwide even before). But, hearing first-hand stories among friends and family of their attempts at getting out and about, be it in the tri-state or beyond through the rest of the US (and in rare instance in Canada and Europe), and being confronted by this kind of behavior is beyond frightening.

You want to know why I’m skeptical of “opening back up?” It’s because I fear that the kind of jackassary that existed before in passing will be weaponized. Certain groups are beyond just politicizing the disease, they have weaponized both the disease and it’s fear. If this is what they are doing in the “shadows” with an impeached president calling them, abstractly yet again, “good people” can you imagine what they will do when actually unleashed?

I don’t need bunch of Dunning-Kruger ignorant fucknuts endangering my family, friends, neighbors and coworkers.

Believe me, I wish them nothing more to become Covid Corpses as ironic deserts. The less stupid there is in the world, perhaps the better.

But, honestly, even outside of their long overdue “come-to-god” moments that would be best spent dying alone and unattached, the reality, unfortunately for all of us, is they are vectors to everyone they come in contact with…both those who try to be prepared and those who are exposed to the stupid unexpected.

Prevention is as much the potentially infected’s responsibility as it is the possible infectee. These dirty kkkuntrags though want to believe that everyone else needs to bow down to their convenience.

Thus it’s scary to go out, when everyone exposed to these jackasses who don’t wear masks, who don’t social distance, who don’t wash their hands (or themselves for that matter), creates an unwitting vector out of everyone they come in contact with.

We’re still working with a 7-20 day period of asymptomatic carrier possibility and yet these indignant assholes believe that since they “don’t feel sick” they can do what they please and it’s up to everyone else to protect themselves. How about, “don’t be a fucking asshole” and maybe care about the possibility you will infect your significant other — assuming these fat lazy fucksticks aren’t jerking off on themselves as their only form of love) — your family like kids, parents, you know, assuming these colostomy bags realize they aren’t alone in the world and have kin that’s not the klan — friends, coworkers, neighbors and so on. I doubt they care.

I care. I lost my dad to this. Early on before most of us had a lot of the knowledge necessary to know how to prevent it. He used common sense having worked in medicine his whole life and even that wasn’t necessarily enough.

Over the weekend I came across a photo of my dad and I from ten years ago. I’m beyond fucking angry that recollecting the moment comes with the cost of not having said good bye.

It wasn’t an easy time in either of our lives. We got together out of necessity as much as anything else. As pissed as I was at all the situations at hand, I still figured out how to make the time. And, in the aftermath, as pissed as I still am at him and everyone else involved, I’m glad he and I parsed some of those moments together. Life’s not fair, and, sometimes there aren’t easy answers to complex situations.

He made those uncomfortable moments somewhat more comfortable during the trips that year we took together. In some ways, had those trips not happened as they had, I wouldn’t be as close to certain people as I am today, including my partner.

We talked about things he rarely otherwise had talked about, exposing parts of himself I’m not sure he intended to expose from a past I’d long since stopped asking about. It can’t be easy for someone decades past to talk about war, divorce, the loss of siblings, etc. but gracefully between talking about North Jersey, the Hudson River and Manhattan history, whiskey, literature and music, shitty commutes and work related monotony, food, and so on, he opened up about stuff that otherwise was normally not spoken. It was one of the few times I got a hint at the conflict in an otherwise strong facade and had a sense of the PTSD he was coping with from a life that some unfavorable moments in it.

Yeah, if this seems like I’m rambling, I am…this is what WTF WFH is 50 days into this nonsense of working from home.

20 albums, 20 days — and I’m resigned to only writing on weekdays for this now
Tagged by Rob via Kevin

–the “influence” of concept records–

Day 10: Amorphis – Elegy – 1996

Loosely created as a song cycle of Karelian folklore found in the Kanteletar (1840) by Elias Lönnrot, Elegy is set on a a framework of lush, Finnish-inspired melodies and soaring harmonized guitars creating a progression of their established death metal facade. Along with the new sonic tapestry it was the worlds to new vocalist Pasi Koskinen and my introduction to the band. And, what an introduction.

The appeal for me was multifold.

First, the hybridization of different types of metal with folk was intriguing enough both compositionally and sonically. There’s a uniqueness to the harmonization that separates it from the oft-cliche Gothenberg melodic death tonalities that would come to dominate the scene for a while which is part of why Amorphis don’t get lumped in with many of the bands from mainland Europe and the States who borrowed from the style and was a bit part of the allure for me.

Second, it’s a unique approach to a concept record for a metal band, although quite popular of a thematic approach in other genres, to craft a series of songs around a series of inter-related ideas. It works especially well in this case because the source material feels natural for the band to begin with. It comes off as a natural progression both lyrical and compositional approach.

It’s a good challenge for the listener with it’s twists and turns between clean and growled vocals, shredding guitars and semi-acoustic passages, and the insightful influence of folk contrasted with the aggressive nature of metal. Yet, nestled within all of that are passages that are easy to sing along with, headbang along to and simply get excited about without much effort.

As for what we ate, I ended up throwing together some kind of “stir fry” fun.

I made this Texmati Rice stuff according to the package instructions which are a little different than your typical approach. Instead of bringing the water up to a boil and adding the rice, reduce heat and cover, the package says you soak the rice in the still water for a time, then bring to a simmer for a time covered, then turn off the heat and let it finish “steaming.” Once it’s done in the pot, I put it in a big fry pan and crust it up. The Iberian word for it is socarrat, I have no idea what other cultures call it, but it’s my favorite part of any rice dish.

The rice gets fried at the end, meanwhile I use the big fry pan to cook up each of the different ingredients. As each ingredient is completed it gets transferred from the fry pan to a big skillet to be kept warm and make it easier to toss together at the end.

First goes the seitan. You can use tofu if you’d like too, that’s our other go-to with other version of the dish. I lightly dredge it in a combination of flour mixed heavily with garlic, onion, ginger, turmeric powders and cracked black pepper. Brown it up in a good hot pan in sesame oil (I actually cut it with a little vegetable oil) and then transfer to the skillet. Next comes the coarsely chopped onion over high heat in the oil. At the end, so as not to have it burn, I add thin sliced garlic cloves and sliced fresh ginger before transferring that to the skillet with the seitan. Next I do the veggies in stages depending on what their cook times are. So the carrots go in separate from the broccoli or the bell peppers, for example since sliced carrots take longer than broccoli florets or bell peppers slices to cook up. I generally give them a quick toss in the oil with salt and pepper and cook them in a hot pan. I’m looking more for the exterior browning than actually cooking them soft, I like them to still have some snap or crunch so they should be al dente tender in this case, but you cook to the wellness you like and then transfer to the warm skillet. After those veggies I added frozen peas and edamame doing the same thing with the oil, salt and pepper, and cooking till they’re just getting some color and warmed through. Finally, I crack a few eggs in the pan, again with oil, salt and pepper, and turn them into something roughly like scrambled egg and then toss them in with everything in the skillet.

You can make a ‘sauce’ if you’d like. There’s some good recipes for sauces out there. For me, today I took the garlic, onion, ginger, turmeric powders along with cracked black pepper, piri piri (a spicy hot pepper) powder and dried cilantro and chices and tossed that with the veggies and served over the soccorat rice with a few dashes of lime juice and piri piri sauce.

Posted in business commentary, Edible & Digestable, Entertainment, humor, music, Opinion, parenting, personal musings, recipes, the Covid Files, WFHWTF | Leave a comment

WFH WTF – The Covid Files, Day 49: Explaining Death

Finally got to the point where we had to tell the Padawan what happened to my dad, their pépé.

Death is kind of a weird subject to broach with toddlers.

Unlike a lot of other “milestone” events which you can prepare them and yourself for, death is one of those things that rarely has much build up to it. While we all know death is inevidable it’s also an event that’s is pretty unpredictable even among those we know are dying already. So, unlike preparing a child for a sibling, or the responsibility of a pet, or the losing of their teeth, or puberity or whatever, death kind of sneaks up on a lot of people a lot of the time.

Dovetailing from that, most adults I don’t think really have a firm grip on what death is. Sure, there’s a biological definition of death but let’s face it, it’s technical which probably isn’t comforting to most. Never mind the loose grasp of science many adults have in the first place. Then, there’s religious and spiritual explanations of death as well. But, they vary greatly in how they are interpreted by different groups and individuals and may not offer a lot of tangible explanations either.

But, having an emotional relationship with death is a lot different than just understanding the technical or philosophical aspects of it. And, confronting the loss of a loved one and grappling with the complexity of emotional responses that comes with it isn’t something most adults have a lot of first hand experience with to begin with. So figuring out how to help explain to a little one what that all means is a challenge.

This all makes the ambiguity of death tough to explain. Life is tangible. You know it because it’s here in front of you. You’re interacting with it. Death is like the anti-tangible. The person is gone. But, where did they go? Well their de-animated body goes into the ground but why are they de-animated? What happened to who they were? That’s a lot of ambiguity. You have to make a leap of faith that something happens to who they were.

The lack of a physical form not being animated makes this kind of difficult to figure out because my dad died from Covid during the early parts of the pandemic lockdown he died alone in the hospital. He was cremated without a ceremony and interned without a memorial service. There was no shiva or wake. There was no mass or service in his honor. There was not military gun salute and flag presentation. There was no formal good-bye to the “physical form.” So, we’re all lacking a bit of that closure after an extended period of not being able to prepare it for ourselves because there was no hospital visitation, there was no sacrament of last rites, there wasn’t even the opportunity to do a virtual good-bye because of his extended time in the ICU and how crazy the hospitals were at the time.

But, while kids have some great imaginations and there are some understandably popular mythology about the afterlife trying to explain death to a little one is a challenge. I feel like I’d written about this once before on the blog, but at this point I’m not sure how I’d go back over the years of entries to find it.

Anyway, the older Padawan kept asking to talk to mémé and pépé this morning. It happened a bunch of times earlier in the week too. At first, we just kept deflecting with the normal explanation that pépé was still sick and he wouldn’t be able to get on the video call but we could call mémé later in the morning and they could chat. Padawan was pretty inconsolable about it so we tried to deflect to offering other family members instead but they were insistent on missing pépé.

It was eating at me to hear them keep asking about it so I finally, holding back tears, told them we needed to have a chat about pépé. I’m not sure exactly how we went about the entire explanation really, it’s kind of a blurry mess in my head.

Padawan knows about the virus.

Our first way of helping them understand it was to have him watch different kid geared programming about it. Their personal favorite is Ask the Story Bots “How Do People Catch a Cold?” from Season 2, Episode 8. There’s a few tangental Story Bots that make good foundations into how the body works as well. Another good one is the “Germs!” mini-episode of Sid the Science Kid, and again there’s a few tangental ones about bacteria, and how the body works, etc which are helpful too. And Dr Binocs for Peekaboo Kidz has a bunch of shorts on germs, viruses, bacteria, etc which are fun too. There’s a couple of short T-Ed Talks that are good too, the one off the top of my head I remember watching a bunch of times was done by Yannay Khaikin and Nicole Mideo.

Second, in trying to explain Covid-19 we took the approach of saying that everyone could be sick but they might not know it. Since everyone could be sick but not know it we need to treat everyone like they are sick and behave as we would around sick people normally. This means we can’t go to all the places we normally would and when we go out we need to take all the extra precautions like avoidance, masks, extra hand washing, etc.

Third, because the older Padawan also saw how sick their sibling and I were for a couple of weeks, they have some perspective on how much different sick can be from the colds, ear infections, hand-foot-mouth, etc. We told Padawan that pépé was even sicker than their sibling and I.

As for death, we tried to explain that because of how sick pépé was his body couldn’t fight the infection anymore and he stopped being alive.

There was a brief kind of confusion trying to grasp that not being alive is kind of like what happens when you step on an ant or an earth worm dries up out in the sun kind of thing. But that just because the physical form isn’t there doesn’t mean that pépé isn’t there. We told them they could talk to pépé anytime they wanted to.

After some time of contemplation and all one of the questions that stood out was the conclusion they came to about talking to pépé among the stars. It was pretty cool for them to get to that without a prompt, and we told them pépé would always be there among the stars for them.

Later that day my partner took them both to the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. It was a trip that was already planned as part of a nature scavenger hunt they were going to do as part of a modified Tinkergarten lesson anyhow so it was a lucky coincidence, so to speak, that everything aligned. Unlike most modern cemeteries which are neat rows of headstones for as far as the eyes can see, this features meandering pathways that cut between ancient tombs in groves of old growth trees climbing up several miles of hillside. The Horseman’s Hollow from the Washington Irving story runs along the southern boarder while the northern flanks the old Rockefeller estates and the vast space in-between is steep in history, and thus, personality.

Upon their return all the Padawan wanted to talk about was the experience being there and how much they learned about what happened to pépé. It was very intense to hear them rattle off all their thoughts, but pretty amazing too how much they seem to be at peace with the news.

It’s impossible to know how long that magic will last. Or, how easy it will be for them to embrace this new, amorphous version of pépé.

My biggest concern now, honestly, is figuring out how to keep my dad’s memory and legacy alive. Not for myself, though, that’s going to be an issue too, but to help both the Padawan embrace who their pépé was…all of him, the legendary awesomenesss and the very human flaws and for them to hear all the stories enough such that they pass them down to the next generation the way I was told about my meme and pepe as great-grandparent and my grandfather who all passed when I was young.

To be honest, I’m a little blurry trying to type some of this stuff up. Maybe I’ll take a quick break and look at the stars.

20 albums, 20 days
Tagged by Rob via Kevin

–the “influence” of concept records–

Day Nine: Mastodon – Leviathan – 2004

The conceptual nature of this masterwork is two fold. First, it is loosely based on one of my favorite novels “Moby-Dick; or, The Whale” by Herman Melville. Secondly, it is considered the representation of the water element for the band’s tetralogy spanning their first four releases. It’s an ambitious way to start one’s career and so well executed that apart from two specific tracks (“Blood and Thunder” and “Megalodon”) I almost exclusively listen to the recording in full.

It was “Blood and Thunder” however that not only sold me on Mastodon as a passionate fan after only passively enjoying them for “Remission” but was the absolute perfect introduction to the album itself. My first exposure to it was actually from the label rep humming the opening riff to me and then doing their best impression of the call and response between Brent Hinds and guest Neil Fallon (Clutch). When I received the lyric sheet a few days after that my appetite was whet. Continued leaks from the label boardered on what under any other circumstance would have been overhype.

And, then I heard it. That opening guitar passage is a epic salvo and belongs in the annals of all-time great rock riffage. The albums really does have this epic, oceanic nature to it, where everything just washes over you with an awe inspiriting sense of the pelagic. It’s apocalyptically dark, even moreso than Mellville’s already insightful work into unraveling the human condition. And, it’s brutally heavy, building on itself in layers like a tidal storm surge from gritty distorted guitars, guttural vocals and the insistent pounding of the percussion such that even the softer sections still buckling under the weight of the albino cachalot itself.

Unlike the rest of Mastodon’s concept albums there’s almost a simplistic beauty to Leviathan’s short run time and succinct song lengths making it feel more approachable while never actually giving up on the band’s complex compositional heritage or progressive metal inspiration. For me, this is what allows the album to succeed rather than sinking to the depths of Davey Jone’s locker in an effort to do too much.

What did I eat?

We were talking about diner food the other day so I made myself another diner classic. Because I am a Jersey kid at heart and I fucking love me some diner food.

Hellllllllllo Happy Waitress.

No one knows what the name means or where it actually originated from but it’s a dirty Jerz dive staple. Literally, every shitty dive bar with a kitchen has it on “the menu” as does any respectable diner. True, some of the through-traffic diners and more modern, fancified, diner-like restaurants reduced the classic namesake to an easier-to-sell “open faced grill cheese” but anyone who’s worth their Jersey Pride knows it’s a Happy Waitress.

Classic version of it is literally an open faced grill cheese sandwich with made with mayo slathered white bread and gooey American cheese. It would seem like you literally could not fuck this up … but actually, I have had some pretty shitty ones over the years. Likewise, in it’s utter simplicity it’s a great vehicle to have some fun with too.

When I order mine out I usually get a slice of tomato and extra crispy bacon under the cheese, so making it at home that’s what I did, only replacing the godly porcine strips with Sweet Earth Hickory Smoked Seitan Bacon which is a passable substitute for these kinds of applications.

First, I like to cut the tomato and salt it in order to embed some flavor and leach off some of the extra moisture. Then, I fry the seitan up in a pan with some butter so it crisps up without completely drying out and set the seitan aside. Next I mayo both sides of the bread (we only have some multigrain we got at the farmer’s market, it’s pretty light in color though and has more of an oatbread kind of flavor rather than the nuttier flavor of most darker multigrains) and lightly toast one side. When I flip it over, I then mustard the other side with some dijon, place the tomato and seitan bacon on it and then place the cheese on top, in this case some vegan American and regular munster slices. The vegan American takes some getting used to working with but in combination under the munster melts up ok. Then for a little extra oomph, I sprinkle a little bit Coleman’s Ground Mustard powder on for good measure. Cover the pan so the cheese melts while the bottom of the bread toasts.

You can experiment with this a lot of ways, just look back at how I destroyed the Tuna Melt a couple of days ago and use your imagination in a similar fashion putting all kinds of stuff under the cheese.

Posted in Edible & Digestable, Entertainment, music, Opinion, parenting, personal musings, recipes, the Covid Files, Tops All Time, WFHWTF | Leave a comment

WFH WTF – The Covid Files, Day 48: Finding Structure Again

One of the biggest challenges of parenting during the Pandemic is trying to figure out how to juggle the competing responsibilities of “working full time” while also acting as a “teacher” during the day and still maintaining the normal “parent” role as well as keeping up with all the homestead responsibilities that keep this place running.

It’s not easy, especially since the Padawan desperately miss their friends and teachers. Admittedly, we cannot give them the attention they deserve compared to what they are used to while trying to juggle everything else around. And, honestly, they’re probably getting bored with hanging out 24-7 with us as well. Honestly, I’m quite done with them and if it weren’t for their joyous moments I’d be completely out of my gourd.

Early on we tried to put together some structure for them based on what we could from their original schedules. We had meal times, and project times, and worksheet times, and play times, and nap times mapped out in what we thought would work.

And, as I expected from my many years of project management, the first version rarely works. The concept was good. The execution sucked and no one stuck to it. The second version, the concept sucked but the execution was good. It still didn’t work, though, obviously because it was too hap-hazard.

So, this week we’ve all been working on creating a third optimization of our failed experiment. This balancing act employs an off-the-cuff suggestion I had about making a clock with no numbers.

This produced a nice art project where we took a paper plate and some colored construction paper. We cut some pie pieces and decorated them with a series of tasks, like meal time and sleep time as anchors and then combinations of worksheets, projects, reading, play, music and more. In theory, you could start the clock at any anchor point and then follow through the different things that could be done. There’s some stability in it while also offering some creative variation over time.

The older padawan is very routine oriented though, so we ended up with the anchors being quite fixed initially… breakfast is always followed by a worksheet, reading, project, etc. the first few days which made the transition on us too.

It really helped from a behavioral standpoint so far. They are both more excited about doing things. Part of it is moving the arrows on the clock which is fun in and of itself. Part of it seems like visualizing what comes next which was missing with the ambiguity in the old system. Part of it is the fact that this created a series of inter-related projects, so far, that dovetail off the original clock.

I’m not sure how long this will last but I’ll absolutely take the temporary serenity. The chaos was getting to a breaking point and now they are functioning more, or less, like normal toddlers instead of pandemic padawan as they were becoming.

20 albums, 20 days
Tagged by Rob via Kevin

–the “influence” of concept records–

Day Eight: Norma Jean – O’God, The Aftermath: The Marvelous End of the Exhausted Contender – 2005

This might be the most interesting interpretation of what makes a concept album in that every title, in short form, is a Portmanteau while the long-form title includes a trivial explanatory. Thematically, it’s a social critique and I’ve been told it was done in a theoretical round, in which the different perspectives overlap across songs which is why the titles are presented as portmanteau.

Whatever the logic behind it, the recently revamped Norma Jean sonically built on their tech-core foundation with Christian metal nomad Cory Brandan at the helm and an inspired devotion to focusing their chaos. It is filled with nerdy riffs, off-kilter breakdowns and shifty vocalizations that also appealed to scene kids who were desperate for something familiar yet found the experience challenging.

There’s a lot to like about the effort in bits and pieces, which was the initial attraction of scensters. It’s full of great parts: pull quote lyrics, slaying riffs, brutal breakdowns, scream along choruses, solid singles. But, it’s so much more than the sum of it’s parts and that’s why it’s one of the reasons as much as I love the album as much as I do for a top-to-bottom listens and part of what’s sustained it among the techcore community for the last 15 years.

What am I eating?

Food.

Simple, quick to throw together, fuck this I might be solving the parenting but work is going to shit gimmie some comfort food, food.

Breakfast? After a bagel I was hungry a few hours later and made a breakfast Quesadilla. Lunch? Quesadilla. Lack of dinner before bed snack? Quesadilla.

The bastardized mexi-murikkkan meal of white people trying to be ethnic that has become Quesadilla is pretty much what I’m working with — two tortillas, some cheese and a fry pan.

Posted in Edible & Digestable, Entertainment, music, Opinion, parenting, personal musings, the Covid Files, Today I Ate, Tops All Time, WFHWTF | Leave a comment

WFH WTF – The Covid Files, Day 47: ammosexual cosplay

Before you go on with saying that I’m some East Coast Liberal Elite that hates the Second Amendment and has never shot a gun in my life you should know that I’m not going to correct you on the first part.

I am. I lived my entire life in the greater mid-Atlantic Region. I have a metric shit-tonne of Jersey Pride. I’m New York Tough now too. I was a Nutmegger and a Marylander and repped the DMV and SEPA pretty hard too. I have multiple university degrees and multiple certifications and have been a part of a number of professional organizations across multiple disciplines including a few different aspects of business and music, as well as mass media, law and more. I am proud of my unending thirst for knowledge and make it a point to know as much as I can about what I love. And, yes, I am a Bull Moose modeled progressive after having gone through an ill-advised libertarian phase and come originally up as a more traditional Democratic Party moderate-liberal.

But, I would like you to know I support the Constitution and the responsible implementation of the rights bestowed within the Amendments. That includes the Second. I don’t mind people owning any number of firearms or other weapons. I personally don’t like how the right itself has been weaponized by the gun lobby over the past few decades as an irresponsible bastardization of the Amendment’s historical intent in order to help fuel the capitalist ambitions of a few manufacturers preying on the fear of a populous. I also don’t like the overt whiteness of the cause and the uneven application of the Amendment when it comes to minorities wielding weapons as it pertains to both the systemic racism of certain communities and within the justice system.

And, I want you to know that I acknowledge I am a bit of a firearms novice. However, in my “discussions” with a bunch of so-called Second Amendment enthusiasts, including some card carrying NRA members, in my peer group it’s pretty clear that many gun toting cosplay ammosexuals are equally firearms novices too. Despite the weapons they own they apparently which they suppose makes them experts, they’re about as reliable with information as asking my toddler to explain it to me. I know this about these particular people because I’ve heard them called out by qualified experts when we’ve all been together. Because I’ve researched their claims among people who’s knowledge base I trust and sources that are generally credible and reliable. I know this because one of the truisms I’ve learned is you yourself don’t know something unless you can easily explain it to someone who knows nothing about it. And, these people answer me with a word salad less filling than eating a bowl of air when I start to ask technical questions. And, then they try to pretend that I’m dumb or something. I not only could completely dissemble and reassemble the 4-barrel Holly on my 65 Mustang but I taught one of the pump attendants who’d never been under the hood of a car before how to do it. I’m pretty sure if I could maintain the complexity of a dual points Malory manual advance system and teach my friends how it worked on that nuveau-jalopy I had in High School I can understand the gun you take to the shop every time you jam it from misuse.

But, I digress.

I’m looking at the pictures of these cosplay jackasses showing up exploiting their Second Amendment as well as several of their First Amendment rights as a form of at minimum intimidation and at worst domestic terrorism and I almost have to laugh. This is what the NRA is OK with being responsible gun ownership? Seriously? Fuck the NRA and every last jackass still supporting it. If they really cared about safe, responsible gun ownership they would be the first people speaking out about the kind of careless at best and reckless at worst behavior of these ammosexauls flaunging the fact that the cops are actually more scared of a bunch of White Trash then they are of minorities.

How do I know the people in the photographs are full of shit?

First, their posture.

There’s two stances these protesters take and neither says “I know how to hold my firearm.” But, both are meant to say, “hey look, I’m a jackass with a firearm, be afraid of me.”

Hey, look buddy. I am afraid of you. But not for the reason you think I am. I’m afraid you’ll hurt yourself. Or some innocent bystander. However, I’m fairly confident you couldn’t actually hit me with anything more than accidental accuracy from a panic filled spray of bullets in my general direction.

The first is that legs spread stance with their arms slightly crossed while cradling their weapon. I used to participate in a number of marching bands and we called that “Parade Rest.” For me, I marched sling snare, tonal bass, tonal cymbals and quad toms as a player, section leader and captain as a and I can pick out someone who is struggling with the weight of their equipment out in a hear-beat. It’s not about being big and strong, which, for these douchebags they believe it is. Nope, I’ve seen some pretty demure people flex 20″ crashes in a tonal line for a 10k parade and never look for the worse in terms of posture and they sounded just as amazing in click one as click 10 slamming out fucking Sousa. These shitheads however look like they just carried my grandmothers dining room hutch fully filled up three flights of steps. There’s no way with those locked knees, sunken shoulders and arched backs they are going to be ready to take aim and fire at a range forget about in the heat of the moment. They’re more likely strain or sprain something trying to get themselves into position from whatever it is that that stance they’re holding is than they are to actually get a timely shot off because their muscles are tight and their joints are misaligned for being able to maneuver with any fluidity.

My guess is, this is because they are overloaded. They visually look weighed down. Maybe these faux gym rats are really out of shape when it comes to the practicality of supporting full gear. I mean, it’s really easy to do arm curls to a 6-pack of Miller light, maybe roll a keg of Coors on occasion, bust a few presses with the Bud but honestly, when you never wear your vest with it’s inserts it’s going to be about as uncomfortable as your so-called Sunday’s best when you actually only take them out for Xmas and Easter. And, it’s readily apparent that you only actually ever hold that weapon when you are hillbilly shooting at cans off a fence…err, I’m sorry, picking it up off the tray to take some still shots at the range. Either way, it’s clear you don’t carry it for any period of time because it looks like you’re sisyphus on his trillionth time with the boulder in how your struggling to cradle it.

I’m not going to even get into how many of them are just plain positioning their firearms wrong because all of the underlying stuff is soooooooo bad that it’s almost unfair to spend time nitpicking the fact that half of them aren’t even in a position to be able to soft tap the safety and be prepared to shoot discretely and the ones that are still couldn’t get the weapon into firing position with ease because of their posture such that they’d need excessive repositioning or they’d get hung up on their own half-assed gear to get there, which, we’ll get to in a moment.

Then again, look at the gear these guys are donning.

Seriously, who the fuck wears jeans at a time like this?

I get it. When you spend as much time on a bar stool doing pint presses as you do taking viagra to get your dick hard you didn’t realize that jean is terrible on your nutsack, not to mention your knees and just about everything else, but as a seasoned outdoorsman I can tell you jean occurs for two reasons — you are stupid or your are a lazy bastard who expects not to actually do anything staining in the first place. If you’re wearing jeans to a fight. Any fight. You’re a fucking moron. Full stop.

Then these asshats are wearing soft hats. I get it. A helmet is hot. It’s heavy on your head. It’s not hip. And this isn’t about being safe, it’s about being cool and looking bad. So, what do a bunch of white trash asshats do, but steal a the 1970s hip hop era urban black kids style as an elderly white dude in the 2020s and flip their soft cap backwards so they don’t even get the benefit of reduced sun glare. But a soft hat offer no protection. Fuckin’ a dude, even anarchist, pot smoking skateboarders figured out cranium damage was a problem a few decades ago and you redneck dumbasses still don’t understand that riot police and the military have donned them in “combat” for that reason since the era of the last pandemic but somehow you are OK with not wearing them but supposedly being combatative now?

Of course, they don’t have knee pads of any kind, so they aren’t actually prepared to hit the deck and manuever low to their center of gravity comfortably. And, they mostly lack useful gloves too so their hands are exposed unnecessarily.

But, most of all they don’t have masks. Not only don’t have masks because they don’t believe Covid exists, or if it does exists don’t believe they need to wear one to help protect themselves.

Nope, these mostly bearded hipster-not-hipsters have fucking unkept facial hair that makes the poorly conceived haircuts we attempted to give our toddlers on their heads actually look professional. These dudes didn’t lose their free gillette in the last few months. Nope these unbathed, unkept, wanna-be mountain men managed to keep their shitty buzzcuts semi clean with dog and sheep sheers but couldn’t figure out what the fuck to do with their faces. It’s no wonder they are out protesting rather than being intimate with their wive(s) (and/or girlfriends and/or sisters and/or mothers and/or brothers, and/or uncles, and/or priests, etc) ain’t no fucking human on the face of the planet want a piece of the pubic jungle they have on their faces.

I have awesome chops. I’ve studied the history of chops and facial hair in general as well as the historical significance of hair on men in general, over several decades now. I’m not an authority, but I can defend my decisions with ease over normal arguments. None of which defend these ammosexual cosplayers whos hair is a lice factory in waiting.

For more than two decades I have crafted different versions of my hair, researched it do defend my choices, and particularly on my face and experienced first hand what the different styles are for wearing a variety of masks post-9/11 as well as post-Sandy among other personal experiences needing to compensate for pathogens, dust and the like. There’s a reason why you see some facial styles, including chops, come into play in certain situations. And, breaking a bear into around the mouth and around the ears into different hair styles had as much to do with vanity as it did with practicality, including attempts at minimizing what at the time where early chemical warfare techniques. But, I digress…

If these gun-toters cared about their cause they’d wear ones too. To protect themselves. To protect one another. To at a minimum to protect themselves from their perceived enemy.

Ironically, they make fun of minority gangs for wearing bandanas but the underlying rationelle is quite applicable here and these jackholes missed the lesson. First, obviously, it helps filter the air, even at the most minimal level, and gang war not only happened in the ghetto but in every ubran area of bad air quality. They make fun of LA and NY but have you ever seen the coal smoke Appalachia in West Virginia and Kentucky or the “hogfly” of the Carolinas or the dustbowl of the plains of Texarkhoma? It’s every bit as brutal and when it happens the smart ones wear masks too.

It’s all too easy for these “I like the feel of thistle in my lungs” former tobacco hounds to discredit what sniffing in shit is because they’ve never had full lung capacity anyhow because they grew up in polluted shitholes that no one ever wanted to talk about. Most people don’t want to breathe in coke which is why dusting the enemy or the cops was so tragic. But these fucksticks have been dusted by everything from coal ash to hog waste to meth processing to the backwash out of their neighbor’s car exhaust, because as we discussed before, the don’t actually know jack-shit about.

I could go on. They are wearing godamned low rise Converse Chucks in the pics…because untreated canvas retro anklets are the way to go into battle — what, the colored paisley underwear you had to steal from your grandmother’s panty drawer is fine to have around your neck but wearing Timbs or Docs because they are popular among minorities now might be too ghetto for your liking despite both those companies being as old as your grandmother’s panties?

That’s what I don’t get about ammosexuals.

They aren’t armed for war. They accuse minorities of being ignorant. But yet these cosplay fools are showing up ready to be gunned down by the “deep state” in ways that no minority gang member, mobster, or anyone else with any sense of rebellion in the history of the world would ever do.

I guarantee you, if threatened, there would be no real rebellion from the Trumpublikkan right at this point. The “left” would defend them faster in court than they could defend themselves in the battle field and unfortunately the leftists would probably be more successful at giving the cosplay ammosexuals what they “really” want than their false flag, tin foil hat rebellion would have actually accomplished.

After all, would a bunch of dudes who are holding their guns where their safety switch finger isn’t actually on the safety switch in the photography and their trigger finger isn’t easily actually able to reach the semi-automatic trigger of their not always well maintained weapon in such a way that their not very well trained situational warfare experience will allow them to accomplish their mission during a skirmish they didn’t actually expect to happen.

I dunno. Maybe I am too smart. too rationale. too not dumbass to realize that these ammosexual cosplay fucknuts are more likely to shoot themselves than anything else. I mean, even the dumbest villians in the lowest of lowbrow interpretations of cartoons seems to have more self awareness than these fools showing up with their guns.

Then again. the white trash ammosexual costplayers in cop uniforms seems to help the rest of america’s dumbass minorities thrive so who knows. Maybe thats what inbread cosplay with a gun barrel is all about.

Afterall. These same jackholes with an empty cranium will correct everyone about how their AR isn’t a military grade weapon (you’re right, they don’t use legos to built M16s and even M16s aren’t great infantry weapons anymore so how is your piece of shit AR going to stand up to an M16 when you rebel, or are you too stupid to think that through, ne’re mind they have M1-Abrams, or, MQ-9 Reapears, or, I dunno, fucking Nuclear Weapons) It’s like the goddamned education system isn’t failing minorities as much as it’s supercreating fucking dumbass white kids.

I mean seriously. If I have to look at another protester stow their ammo in free pockets on their body I’m going to cry. It’s like you want to die and just can’t figure out the right way to commit suicide. For christ’s sake, you’re diabetic, clogged artery, smokers, just one more of any of that should do you in and yet you’re able to successfully walk around, in public, with poorly stowed ammo without blowing up your local child molesting priest? Seriously, how misguided are your values that decades long kid touchers, pologamy and tax fraud is ok but some liberal correctly wearing a mask to protect YOUR health is some kind of moral infringement.

Stupid cannot be cured. But hopefully, it can be Covid Cadavered. Because the American way needs to overcome the murikkkan stupid that seems to allow a bunch of pointy hooded, narrow minded, inbread inspired fucksticks to believe that it’s OK for their grandmothers to die so long as they can blame it on a bunch of liberals that stopped them from getting a pabst and no chance of getting laid by their wife because she’s fucked up on white claw and paint thinner fumes from getting a bad salon job

20 albums, 20 days
Tagged by Rob via Kevin

–the “influence” of concept records–

Day Seven: Zao – Funeral for a God – 2003

From my perspective as a Zao fan who endured endless line up changes and the constant shape shifting of a brilliant little hardcore outfit from nowhere West Virginia to post-religious progcore collective that produced one of the quintessential concept record – an endeavor that not only flips thematic writing on its head but challenges the group’s roots right down through their core.

This is a caustically apocalyptic story both sonically and lyrically in which “God” disgusted by humanity as it’s become abandons them. From the perspective of humanity, there’s some level of repentance but there’s no clear acceptance by God of a return. It’s a very personal story for many, myself included, who struggled with the traditional Western interpretation of God, the Keeper.

Zao, over my years of studying metalcore, are my next-gen experience of Voivod, for better or worse. And, I think that’s why I struggled with how to present them in this list. They belong everywhere and yet nowhere at the same time. They do abruptly amazing and unexpected things that literally cause chasms in their genres and yet are not appreciated until way later for how their progressive diatribes actually could be applied. For who would have guessed a Christian band would write about a lack of God so forthright. Or a “metalcore” band would embrace the elements of atmosphere and emo at a time when most of their peers where doubling down on the genre’s stomping breakdowns. It is just as refreshing a listen now as it was back then and remains a watershed moment in the band’s often turbulent career where everything came together somewhat seamlessly.

While the individual tracks stand quite well on their own my preferred listening is almost always top to bottom because there’s something about how the interlocking pieces fit together than makes the highs of the record’s individual tracks even higher and really puts a point to some of the experimentation they undertook.

As for food, what have we been eating?

If there’s something to be said for what I end up posting here sometimes it’s that it’s ended up being a lot of “comfort” type foods an a lot of stuff I can throw together with whatever we have in relatively short time frames. I take short cuts out of necessity as much as anything else since there really is a limited window between everything else in which to manage all the crazy.

Today I made a diner classic in a very not diner kind of way.

Typically, the diner’s around here use the 1950’s tuna salad special of canned albacore, mayo and chopped celery and it’s served on toasted choice of rye or white, with either American or munster broiled on top, served open faced. If you’re wondering, I’m a Rye with Munster and a slice of tomato kind of person, side of slaw, garlicly dill pickle and seasoned fries.

However, when I make canned tuna at home I take a LOT of liberties with the flavoring. It’s set in mayo, then used a combination of Old Bay, a house blend Piri-Piri seasoning (has garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, piri piri powder), diced pickled jalapeno, finely diced red onion, chives and dried cilantro along with a couple of dashes of lime juice to make the tuna salad part.

I slathered the crusty multigrain bread we had at home with mayo and gave it a pan toasting while preparing everything else. Then I added a layer of diced tomato, finely diced red onion and pickled jalapeno almost like a “salsa” to the bread with a quick dash of salt, then I layered tuna salad on top, slapped a couple of slices of munster on it and put it under the broiler.

Tonnes of variations on the seasoning though.

Want it Buffalo Style? Normally, I still use mayo, but cut in half, but ranch or blue cheese dressing works too, and use a store bought buffalo sauce or make your own with Franks Red Hot and Butter as the other half (there’s a bunch of recipes on line for how to do this. I usually throw in some extra red pepper flakes, black pepper and garlic powder along with the diced celery. I use a chopped celery and diced tomato bed between the toast and salad and I bake some blue cheese crumbles on top

Want it Italian Style? I still use the mayo, but a creamy italian works too, diced celery, onion and fennel with dried italian herbs mixture (basil, parsley, oregano, etc) and black pepper. Sliced tomato (salted and peppered) as the bed and some provolone broiled on top.

Want it Asian-fusion? Try some wasabe steeped soy sauce mixed in with chopped garlic, chopped fresh ginger, finely chopped onion and either mayor or something like a Yum Yum Sauce (buy it or there’s some recipes to make your own online). I use pickled ginger slices along with seaweed as the bed and broil something like fontina on top when I can (to my knowledge cheese really isn’t a big thing in Japanese cooking so I wouldn’t even know what to recommend since I’ve never had any).

And, so on. You basically just add the cliche flavor of the places you want your tuna to visit. It’s a fun way to travel with your food and not actually go anywhere

Posted in business commentary, Edible & Digestable, Entertainment, music, Opinion, parenting, recipes, the Covid Files, Tops All Time, WFHWTF | Leave a comment

WFH WTF – The Covid Files, Day 46: a death is a death

I keep hearing about how “every death is a Covid death” by those who are trying to undermine the current death count of about 80,000 Americans. There’s a tonne of conspiracy theories surrounding how Sars-Cov-2 related deaths are calculated. Most are fairly easy to debunk. Not that any attempt at debunking them would do any good for a believe of said theory.

The point these tin-foil hat wearing, Dunning-kruger suffering, mostly Trumpublikkan deplorables are trying to make is that Covid is not nearly as bad as what the “libtards” are making it out to be. Generally, these are the same people that distrust science and the government anyhow. They are skeptical of authority regardless of where it comes from but especially when it’s perceived that there’s an elitism about it, such as what comes from years of having studied medicine or statistical modeling which are cornerstones of the current response. They’ve been fed a string of lies from the right for decades, designed to undermine exactly what’s necessary now in order to confront the twin heath and economic disasters effectively.

What the conspiracy theories aspire to do is create a feeling that the deaths represent an over-count so their selfish needs can be met. As I’ve discussed before, it’s not about getting back to work for most of these people. Sure, they want to earn a living for themselves and their families, but the list of demands by protesters, and by government officials who rely on a robust economy to secure their re-election into power, rarely circles back to safe, secure working environments that feature a living wage, access to healthcare, and other vitals that are actually necessary to restart the economy, while also keeping people healthy.

To me, however, it’s not a matter of how many deaths are, or are not, attributed to Covid.

While accurate reporting is necessary for any number of reasons, the fact of the matter is that the United States, and large portion of the rest of the world, is seeing more people die in 2020 than they had experienced the previous year at this same time. On a monthly basis the year-over-year trend of deaths, regardless of what one might attribute to them, is significantly higher this year than last year both in raw numbers and in percent of population. This stands to be true in nearly all of the 50 States and a number of US Territories. It stands to be true through large parts of Asian (it’s hard to take Xi’s Chinese Government numbers seriously at this point and the North Koreans report nothing factual anyhow) and throughout Europe and for Canada.

It’s not just higher year-over-year for the first half of 2020 compared to 2019, it’s higher both in raw numbers and in percent of population against the 10-year rolling average.

So, fine, you don’t want to believe Covid is involved in killing people in order to protect Impeached President Trump reputation and counter the perception of a lacklustre response to the Covid Pandemic by his administration and the Trumpublikkkan-led Senate as well as by State Govenors like DeSantis, Kemp, Abbott and others. But, if it’s not Covid, something is killing people. Lots of people. Significantly more people than who usually die.

Thus, it’s a dereliction of these representative’s duty to their constituents and to America as a whole to address the drastic rise in death’s this year somehow. They simply are not proposing ANYTHING to address the deaths at all. Their Method of Operation is same as it has been: to deny, and then to deflect. Never to address head on what the problem is.

If they truly believe it’s not Covid that’s killing so many people, then it’s on them to figure out what is affecting the death rate so different to past years and make some response to it. People simply don’t die for no reason en masse the way they have been in the majority of the world this year.

Chances are, it’s Covid. And, it’s way more likely we’re under-counting the effects of the virus than we are over-counting.

But, let’s indulge one of the right wing conspiracies and demonstrate how ineffectual it really is. The extremist belief is every death is being marked a Covid Death even if the person had some “underlying” condition. Which underlying condition they believe it should be attributed to, of course, they theory doesn’t say, just that they believe most Covid Deaths are mismarked and should be something else.

The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics cites on its fast stats page the death rate is 863.8 deaths per 100,000 population, or about 8.6% over the course of a year. Currently, the cumulative US Deaths are exceeding this standard. When broken down at a State level it’s clear some of the hardest hit states, like New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Louisiana, etc. are not just seeing high Covid-19 deaths, but deaths overall far exceeding their normal deaths per 100,000.

Sure, if you strip out the Covid marked deaths the rate is lower. But those people are still dying so they need to be counted somewhere. It wouldn’t matter if they were Covid or Heart disease, when they’re all counted together, that’s the total death toll and it’s higher than normal. So even if you redistributed Covid Deaths to conditions like heart disease, Cancer, lower respiratory diseases and cerebrovascular diseases, which represent some of the top “underlying conditions” but also four of the five most common causes of death overall, the number of deaths in totality is still substantially higher than normal. And, now, the number of deaths related to those individual conditions is also higher. All you’ve done is just rearrange the deck chairs.

This is why states like Georgia and Florida are not only obfuscating their Covid related reporting but are suppressing their hospitalization and death numbers overall so that the uptick in those, regardless of cause, wouldn’t be as apparent.

Fact is, if it’s not Covid actually killing these people than we have some substantive changes in heath outcomes for heart disease, Cancer, lower respiratory diseases and cerebrovascular diseases that need to be addressed and it’s not being addressed. And, we have a lot more elderly Americans, minorities, and the working poor dying than would otherwise normally pass on and that’s not being addressed either. So, if neysayers in the government and the general public don’t want to do anything about Covid they should then be concerned with these other deaths. And, they’re not. Make’s that whole “pro-life” thing of there’s all that much more hypocritical, yet again.

No matter what the cause, the United States is losing people faster than we have in decades. And, rather than doing something about it the Conservative Right Wing Trumpublikkkans are ignoring it rather than addressing it. Covid or not, they are utter failures, as elected officials, as stewarts of the American way, and impost importantly as human beings, while their constituents, their fellow Americans, and most importantly while other humans die.

Fine, don’t want to address it as a health pandemic from Sars-Cov-2? At least address it for what it is — a mass die off of Americans. And fucking do something about it rather than stroking your own selfish egos and ignoring the pain and suffering of your fellow humans. I don’t care that you cannot go shopping with your family. I can that you and your family might die, unexpectedly, probably painfully, due to whatever is happening with these deaths. It’s a shame you won’t care enough about people dying till it’s one of your own.

Corpses are coming. Like it or not. And, when you or yours is a Covid Cadaver there will be less empathy for your pain by people like me because you showed absolutely none for our losses and made fun of us when we tried to warn you. Blow it off as being no worse than seasonal flu, but something is much more likely to kill you or a loved one of yours this year than any year for decades. That’s reality. Full Stop.

Onto the music, because, although the open diary of thoughts is good for me to get off my chest, the reality is anyone actually coming to the blog probably is more interested in the other stuff in my head

20 albums, 20 days
Tagged by Rob via Kevin

–the “influence” of concept records–

Day Six: Between the Buried and Me – The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues & The Parallax II: Future Sequence

The EP and subsequent LP are partner efforts that more than adequately demonstrate the supremacy of BTBAM. It’s a natural maturation of a band that’s simuteniously comfortable with who they are and yet always pushing their sonic ambitions.

When I was first subject to Between the Buried and Me it was really hard to know what to make of them and their oft-kilter, hardcore kid appeal at those early live shows since it shredded much more like a tech-death band than it did as a string of moshable breakdowns. The air of genre-bending confusion the produced was both frustrating and intriguing so it wasn’t until a few years later when I sat down with the records out of context of their Victory Moshcore roots that my fandom really flourished.

The progressive compositions and over-the-top musicianship is of course an easy sell on their normal approach to recording but it takes on an even more extreme approach as they wrap their sonic flare into a complicated story line that cuts across two releases. The concept isn’t easy to follow, but then again, their music generally requires a bit of suspension of belief to get through when they dive into the 10+ minute epics, so experiencing this pair of releases producing 7 songs that attempt a reach at that length is going to really warp some attention spans.

On the heavy side of their sound, it’s predictable. At a certain point, every progressive ensemble seems to find their stride within their core sound, and that’s especially true in tech-death where it’s a niche approach to begin with. Shit’s beyond solid. Don’t get me wrong. But at this point there’s limited ground to break when you’ve already destroyed the distortion side so thoroughly. So, it’s really the progress the band continues to make stretching their atmospheric ambitions that becomes the real feature here and it plays out very nicely when they decide to feature it.

Honestly, I don’t listen to the two records together a lot because like other similar multi-album efforts it’s a serious commitment of time and brain power. But, when I want to put on something that I can be completely absorbed by for a few hours this is is and there aren’t many couple of hour listening commitments I even make these days so that’s saying something. It’s impressive moreso, because I almost ever take the songs out of sequence or listen to them as individual tracks. I’ll either listen to the EP straight through, or the LP straight through and that’s why they are featured here. Because BTBAM crafted something that’s truly difficult to imbibe other than in it’s unadulterated form.

As for food? What am I eating today?

Popcorn in a fry pan. I got in a popcorn mood a few weeks back. We never keep microwave popcorn around. I hate the stuff. My significant other doesn’t crave it ever either. The single serve air popper we had didn’t survive the mood. And, I’ve always had a soft spot for the old Jiffy-pop style hot pop in a pan but I don’t even know where I’d find those things anymore.

So, years ago, I taught myself how to mock up a version of the Jiffy-pop popper style. First off, you need to find a light pan. This isn’t easy in our house because we have cast iron and stainless with copper core, neither of which are lightweight. And, although I know people how can do this in cast iron, it’s not easy to do without burning and I’m way out of practice trying. We do have one small aluminum pan that has a stick-free ceramic kind of coating that we use for eggs and stuff on occasion which works good for this. It’s a replacement for teflon but those would work too if you have them.

I use combination of salted butter premelted and vegetable oil. Lightly coat the kernels with the warm oil and then cover your pan over medium heat. It’s about a teaspoon of each to about a 1/8 cup kernels for that small pan we have but you might need to experiment with what works for your pan, your stove, your tastebuds. Too little fat and the kernels do struggle to pop and have a high propensity to burn. Too much and the popped corn will be oily and soggy. Too many kernels and you won’t get a good, thorough pop. Too few and you’ll be repeating this so many times your bowl of fun won’t be fun anymore.

When I first did this I used to wrap the pan with tinfoil but these days I use the pan top with a leather glove. Leave the pan alone over medium heat until you first begin hearing the kernels pop. At this point, you need to shift the pan around and reduce the heat slightly. This serves to do a few things, as I understand it, move the unpopped kernels to the bottom where they get direct heat and can pop, as opposed to being pushed to the lid by the popped ones, and to help the popped ones get away from the direct heat of the bottom of the pan so they don’t burn. With the old Jiffy-pop commercials you used to see people vigorously moving that Jiffy-pop pan thing. I think that was for effect because you really only need a good couple of shakes of the pan occasionally until you hear the kernels popping essentially dissipate. You want to pull it off the stove before the popping stops completely so you don’t burn your corn, it’ll keep popping after it leave the direct heat. You also don’t want to take the top off right away, othewise those last few pops will cover your kitchen in fresh popped corn.

We flavor ours with the peanut butter powder, salt and some additional melted butter with the kids, while personally, I like old bay on mine. Recently I’ve taken to adding some nutritional yeast which has a cheesy type flavor along with old bay, it’s a really great experience but something I think you have to want to like, not sure the average pop corn eater would actually love it.

Posted in business commentary, Edible & Digestable, Entertainment, music, Opinion, parenting, recipes, the Covid Files, Tops All Time, WFHWTF | Leave a comment

WFH WTF – The Covid Files, Day 45: lies, damned lies and impeached presidential lies

I wanted to make a Cult-45 post out of this. Spend the time bitching about all the horrible things Trumpublikkkans have done in just the short few days since the last WFH WTF entry.

But, I cannot.

I actually think that’s part of the ploy. And, it has been from day one.

There’s seriously NO way to keep up with the transgressions of this administration. It’s exhausting.

And, I believe that’s the point.

It’s to blind you to the atrocity that’s being committed by normalizing it. If everything is horrible than no one horrible thing can occur to stand out.

It’s much easier to become fixated if it’s a single, impressionable aspect that you can hone in on. If it’s a constant barrage of reinterpretations of the same thing the brain simply starts to tune out in some combination of cognitive dissonance and exhaustion.

For some background, the last three multi-term presidents faced some significant challenges in office. Both self made and via acts within the world around them, For example:

Clinton has his impeachment as what would be the most obvious mis-step in his presidency. There were a lot of interlocking components to it — the Whitewater Scandal accusation, his personal infidelities, lying/purgery, and more. Sure, there’s also a legacy of deregulation, anti-lbgtq efforts, major failings several domestic policy “wars” like drugs and healthcare, and more too.

Bush gravely mishandled two big events during his presidency. First, prematurely announcing Mission Accomplished while being caught in a lie about WMDs. Second, Katrina. Not that there weren’t others, like all the mis-steps in trying to manage two separate economic collapses, but we generally tend to be able to focus on those as being pretty catastrophic examples of failure. Most of the other major scandals like CIA leak scandal, the destruction of massive numbers of electronic files and emails, the Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy, and criticisms of the Patriot Act, torture techniques and more are so secondary because of how epic the two big fails really were and the 8 year time frame over which a lot of the drama unfolds.

Obama, despite accusations from the extremes of the Right for perceived failures with Bengazi, Fast & Furious, FICA warrants, emails/private servers, POW Bergdahl and so on, managed to make it through while avoiding the legitimate controversies that should have surrounded increased use of drones and covert military ops, the top-down approach to bailing out the economy in the wake of Bush’s second recession, the inadequacy of effectively implementing (selling the idea) of the ACA to the American people, not addressing homegrown terrorism, and allowing the response to Russian interference in the election be dictated by McConnel and the Senate, among other things.

For Trump, in three short years somehow Trump already has an impeachment like Clinton, an economic collapse like Bush, and policy failures like Obama. Don’t think that this is bad luck. Or bad timing.

No one is talking about Trump’s impeachment like Clinton. For Clinton it was not just that it was “easy” to focus on the perjury. It’s that despite the breath of Starr’s investigation it was really singularly about the perjury. For Trump, impeachable offenses are a dime a dozen. First, he narrowly missed impeachment in the Russian Election Scandal investigation by Mueller. While there wasn’t evidence for treason (similar to the lack of evidence against Clinton in the initial Whitewater probe) there was evidence of obstruction and perjury that the House elected not to follow through on as an impeachment. Then, there’s ongoing emoluments clause violations and other financial improprieties that the SCOTUS are roped into having to adjudicate the ability of the House to investigate further. Then, there’s an ongoing series of investigations regarding misuse of power, specifically circumventing the Legislative branch’s Constitutional authority over budgets. And, of course the offenses that did actually get him impeached over charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

No one is talking about Trump’s failure with Covid-19 and his ever evolving attempts at Mission Accomplished moments the way they did with Bush because Trump’s bluster from day-one has been day after day of self-congradulations in the Rose Garden, in the oval office, even on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to the point Bushe’s air craft carrier extravagance is paled, yet Trump’s lies are designed to try to minimize threat growing so much greater than the Wars for Oil in Iraq and Afganastan and maximize his bravado at perceived “success” such as not hitting 100,000 dead, or 250,000 dead or 1 million dead or 2.5 million dead or whatever moving target he’s quoting out of context such that “mission accomplished” moments are now a nearly daily routine. Bush stood up once and pronounced premature success and when that turned out to be false, and spend the balance of his time in office once pronounced as a fraud faking and making his best attempt at addressing the perceived failure in an attempt to make some part of it right. He never did revisit the idea of resolve again. His screw up with WMDs is a legacy that’s plagued two subsequent presidencies and likely will remain into a third and he’s been nothing but apologetic since on the few things he’s willing to take credit in failure for. For Trump, sure Covid-19 is ongoing, but the constant need to proclaim it’s done, when it clearly isn’t, and lie about his successes when clearly the number of sick, and dead, unemployed and financially insecure says otherwise, takes the tack out of his repeated premature ejaculation of claiming success.

Likewise, no one is talking about Trump with Covid-19 the way the talk about Bush with Katrina either. Bush had his fill of disasters and earned the the “good faith” of having helped the nation overcome 9-11 while also being a part of eight category five landfall events on the US mainland in 8 years in office. After Katrina’s epic failure, Bush effectively pivoted and leaned into responses such that the subsequent storms despite their destructive capability aren’t as nationally memorable. Meanwhile, Trump tripped over responses to Irma, Maria and Harvey in 2017 alone to the point where the failures all start to blend together. At this point, only three years in average person would be hard pressed to know which one destroyed Puerto Rico, which flooded Houston and which devastated the Carolinas. And, that’s not even accounting for the lackluster dealings with other catastrophic natural disasters, such as the fires in California, flooding along the Mississippi plains and EF-5 tornados that touched down.

People are fast to remember economic mis-steps like the Obama Administration’s investment in Solindra that yeilded a bankruptcy, or pointing out the Democratic Party’s recent bailout of the Kennedy Center that still resulted in layoffs, or NY State’s Gov. Cuomo parlaying $86 Million Deal into a failed attempt at procuring ventilators. These are all one-off, isolated examples. How about the dozens of times Trump bluffed about creating economic success with his tax cuts and economic stimulus packages where the money but high profile corporations went into stop buy backs and never created any equity for the labor force. How about the dozens of companies that took bailout money intended for small business that weren’t actually small businesses. How about the dozens of corporations that accepted stimulus money but still laid off people the same as what the Kennedy Center did. What about all the companies Trump claimed were going to produce PPE and provide essential services that are sending their product overseas for a foreign profit rather than contributing to the cause at home. And, lets not also talk about all the purchasing missteps the Trump administration has taken when it comes to unfilled orders, orders that came in short for supply or at higher costs or without meeting minimum standards or were substantially late. Listing them would be paragraphs. It’s to the point where even the press cannot keep up with the tally.

People are fast to remember Obama’s oft misquoted and usually out of context one-off of “if you like your doctor you can keep them” but are so overwhelmed by the parade of lies that “if you want a test you will get it” is just a forgotten toss aside at a point where tests are still difficult to come by either because the supply isn’t there, or the associated costs are too high, or the results still take too long to be useful for many individuals. Nevermind, the conintued chorus of “we won’t take away your pre-existing condition coverage” is being actively undermined by an attempt to do exactly that through a series of court cases combined with a drum-beat of “underlying conditions are the reason for Covid-19 outcomes” as a way to both shame and devalue pre-existing conditions overall.

When all is said and done, gaslighting by Trumpublikkkans will be an understatement during Trump’s term (and who knows how long after).

Rather, for the time being the intent is to overwhelm you with a parade of chaos.

If you’re worried about your civil liberities as a generality you won’t be worried about your health. If you’re not worried about your health than you won’t notice killing the Clinton, Bush and Obama era attempts at healthcare reform.

If you’re worried however about your health than you won’t notice the destruction specifically Obama era reforms in how business, especially financial institutions fuction or attacks on programs like social security, unemployment insurance, etc.

If you’re worried about your money than you won’t notice all the efforts to undermine labor rights because you’ll be so worried about if you can earn a living at all to care about how it happens and if you’ll get a safe working condition, or a fair wage, or time off due to illness, or unionize / collective bargain and so on.

If you’re worried about your job security you won’t notice what’s happening in the environment and the lack of clean air, and clean water, and so on.

While a lot of this is an attempt at undoing the legacy of Obama because Trumpublikkkans are inherently racist and abhore a black man having done anything to benefit them, there’s a lot of wanting to own libtards in general which is why there’s attacks on other programs, such as ones that originated during the Clinton Administration, regardless of what party produced them. Even both Bush, and believe it or not, Reagan era programs that are either center-left leaning in support or overtime have show to benefit the poor, minorities or (urban) working class are also targets, just for good measure.

The volume of ways Trump and the GOP are wreaking havoc across the board is substantively different from the criticisms of previous executive adminstrations. Sure, some of this predates Trump in office. the GOP led senate’s shady and perhaps Unconstitutional handling of the Federal judiciary, most in particular SCOTUS seat, set much of this tone via McConnell. But, that doesn’t excuse the modern day Trumpublikkkan Party from its transgressions.

As stupid as Trump sounds during his word salad, dirreah of the mouth, spew on the mic/sausage fingers on the keyboard moments there’s likely an intent to his constant barage of otherwise seemingly senile and/or insane moments of public communication — that intent being to overwhelm and consume by shifting topics, shifting positions on said topic and being as grandious and over-the-top as possible. Ask any asshole kid in HS how they navigate the school yard and likely you’ll find some version of this kind of adolescent response, repleate with the insescent name calling, straw men explanations, deflections, lies and attempts at changing the topic.

In the end, when all else is said and done, the litany of lies by an impeached president will be Trump’s legacy.

He lied when he said Covid-19 wasn’t and issue in January. But, that he was also acting on it too. And again in February. When he was saying it would be over soon in March but he was doing something to help anyhow. And again in April. And, he’s lying again now in May about how bad it really is both health wise and economically while also saying treatments and cures are on the way and the economy just needs to be opened to spring back.

You cannot keep up with the web of lies because it’s spun up the way it is. Not necessarily intentionally intricate as much as when you spew that much web it’s going to make something that is brilliantly chaotic or chaoticly brilliant depending on your point of view as a bystander. Of course, it doesn’t much matter if you’re wrapped up in the middle of it, now does it. All that matters is it’s such a fucking mess it’s not even that there’s no easy way out, hell, there might not be a way out at all at this point for some.

On a note more suitable of complexity, let’s talk about some music, shall we?

20 albums, 20 days
Tagged by Rob via Kevin

–the “influence” of concept records–

Day Five: Alesana – The Annabel Trilogy: The Emptiness & A Place Where the Sun Is Silent & Confessions (2010, 2011, 2015)

Writing a record can be challenging. Crafting it as a concept album adds to said challenge. Do it three times and stringing those concepts into a trilogy. That’s a new level of ambition you just don’t see many artists attempt, but Raleigh’s screamcore outfit Alesana embrace it for full effect. The Annabel Trilogy touches on so many of my loves, from where they drew their lyrical inspiration, to the subtle complexities they drew into their compositional elements, to the range of emotions their sonic palette seeks to invoke. And, while it might seem ‘odd’ to find a post-hardcore band mastering the art of concept albums the genre is actually filled with some pretty spectacular works that stand up next to the best traditional prog releases.

Initially, the Annabel tale wasn’t necessarily designed to become a three album epic storyline. The Emptiness begins simple enough as another progression in the band’s sonic style of drafting elements of emo, metalcore and post-hardcore but it quickly becomes apparent as the record develops there’s something more to what they’re doing featuring more solos, more harmonized riffs, more creativity in the vocals. It’s melodic, yet heavy. Introspective yet aggressive. It makes you want to sing along one second and mosh hard the next while producing the bands first ever “singles.” Ironic, since they’re supporting the thoughtful lyrical composition that ties the album together introducing the plot to Annabel while quoting heavily form Edgar Allan Poe.

A year later, A Place Where the Sun Is Silent builds upon those adaptions as both the band, and the storyline embrace the ever evolving progressive nature of the band. Alluding heavily to Dante’s The Inferno, it comes as an album in two “acts” adding to the complexity of what the band’s already attempting parlaying within the Annabel saga. They’re both maturing from the cliche of their genre while fully executing it’s signature styles in an unrelenting fashion. The heavier parts are heavier. The moody parts are more moody. The melodies pull out even more soaring lines.

It took a couple of years to complete the cycle, but Confessions caps off the trilogy in a bit of a Little Red Riding Hood wolf in sheep’s clothing approach to tie the story on up. It’s a really cool set of twists that are equally matched with the band’s continued experimentations socially which are as much some version of prog-core as they are screamo at this point.

At this point, it should be obvious why I adore this three-album cycle. It touches on so much awesomeness. Though, it’s a serious commitment to listen to all three records back to back so that’s a special occasion affair. But, other than also on occasion only busting out the singles across all three albums as a mini-sonic tour, I typically listen to each record in full which is why they qualify for the list, albeit, appropriately grouped together.

Today’s food topic? Pasta.

Sure, why not.

Shredded “chicken” seitan (the lighter kind) in a skillet with some black pepper, onion and garlic powder and butter. Normally, I would put some color on it with a good high sear first, but I honestly was just trying to throw this together quick so however long it took me to prep the rest of the stuff is exactly how long this got to brown.

Boiled the pasta in the same skillet. Tossed the pasta with the seitan and more butter and then with a combination of sun dried tomatoes, very thin sliced garlic cloves, julienne onion, cut black olives and red pepper flakes. Topped it off with some “fake fetta” stuff (it’s not as salty as normal fetta and obviously not made of dairy, but it’s still pretty good) and served warm, not hot.

Posted in business commentary, Edible & Digestable, Entertainment, music, Opinion, parenting, personal musings, recipes, the Covid Files, Tops All Time, WFHWTF | Leave a comment

WFH WTF – The Covid Files, Day 44: It is about race

A lot of shitty meme have been going around lately in the wake of the Ahmaud Arbery video of his killing being released. And, a lot more shitty memes about reopening the economy.

The intersection of the two got me to thinking about a bunch of stuff.

Like how white people need to condemn the two accused murderers. After all, white people are constantly saying to others groups they need to condemn the things individuals who might be a part of the groups do. If someone who happens to be muslim does something bad all muslims must condemn it. If someone who happens to be latino does something bad then all latinos must condemn it. But when white people do things no one asks or expects white people to condemn it. And, make no mistake, when white people do bad things to minorities they intend to do them. And, most white people will sit and make excuses. They’ll say “not all white people are racists or xenophobes.” Sure, that’s true, but if white expect all Arabis to apologize for a few extremists than there’s no reason why white’s shouldn’t be taking the same responsibility for their own. Doubly sure for Cis-Men and Christians whose privilege in Western Culture allows them opportunity have traditionally acted in some pretty shitty ways like forming the KKK. But, let’s stick with a broader stroke here and simply focus on white hypocrisy in demanding contrition from others for the actions of individuals while perpetually ignoring systemic issues in being white and coming up with bullshit excuses like “lone wolves” every time one of our own commits an act of domestic terrorism. I’m embarrassed at how utterly classless most white are. It’s not just White Trash either, though they do come with some unique douchebaggery. There’s all kinds of whites with their heads in the sand about how poorly we handle race and ethnicity as a “group.”

Anyway, the meme that really caught my attention stated as a headline: “White People have been angrily yelling at police for like three weeks now and nobody died.”

It closes with the simple statement, “That’s how you know it’s about race.”

The images are of gun-toting rioters getting up in the faces of law enforcement. You can see spit spewing from lips in some of the pictures. You can see physical contact with the officers. You can see they are all white. Mostly men. And, all clearly very agitated snippets captured by media outlets, surveillance footage and by-standards at “rallies” at Government Buildings in Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia as well as “protests” at retailers and in public spaces in places like Illinois and Wisconsin, among others.

This drew the following critique from me:

Armed whites, who’s legality to cary weapons has not been established, gathered armed where guns are generally prohibited, gathered without permits or permission in places that generally require them, acted in ways that generally could be considered disorderly conduct, which could also be characterized as assault, harassment, battery and a host of other crimes in certain instances as well.

I’m not going to debate this on my wall with anyone. Don’t agree scroll past. Mute me. Heck, unfriend me if that’s what it takes. I’ve done the research. I have the citations where need be. And, much of this breakdown isn’t new. There’s decades of research demonstrating the underlying social and psychological concepts, some of which was theorized and conducted by traditional conservative think tanks, so it’s not just some progressive agenda complaint I’m making. I’m not going to waste my time sharing any of the citations with anyone who’s mind wouldn’t be changed anyhow and anyone who wants more I’ve left enough info to be able to research the theories and thesis.

First, you know the #BlueLivesMatter movement is generally full of shit when these people act with impunity toward law enforcement and there’s so little criticism about this kind behaviors towards law enforcement from anyone normally waving those stupid blue stripped flags. It was never about Blue Lives for most whites. it was about negating the #BlackLivesMatter movement and nothing else. Blue Lives wasn’t a thing until talking about Black Lives being taken unnecessary by LOEs became a thing. If blue lives actually mattered to anyone, including cops, then there would be much more outrage about how these cops are being treated but even the self-righteous police unions themselves are barely complaining about it.

Further to that, IF a minority ever attempted to treat cops the way these white people are treating cops, that minority would likely be dead, or at least in custody recovering from their arrest in the hospital. And, at that point the racists in the police unions would definitely have something to say about the public being respectful of the badge. And, the PBA and FOP and other police organizations wonder why people still sing “Fuck the Police” to the hypocrisy.

Second, you know the #AllLivesMatter movement is also generally full of shit as well. IF, in fact, all lives did matter, they would be wearing masks to protect themselves and the Cops. They’re not. Maybe because they don’t have access to PPE, which, if these people really thought All Lives Mattered they would be protesting for these Cops, and themselves, to have PPE. They’re not. They would be protesting to ensure these Cops, and themselves, had adequate access to testing to know who was sick, who had been sick, etc. They’re not. They would be protesting to ensure the Cops, and themselves, and the Cops families, and their families all had proper access to medical care, for prevention, for treating symptoms and for dealing with the aftereffects of the disease. They’re not.

They would be protesting to ensure there was adequate leave time guaranteed, paid leave even, for the Cops and themselves incase either the Cops or themselves or someone in the Cops family or their own were to get sick to ensure that everyone can get better. They’re not. They would be protesting for bereavement time guaranteed, paid time off even, for those who lose loved ones to the disease, especially considering the high number of deaths AND the fact that families are losing members without saying goodbye, no burials, no memorials, nothing, right now, so much of the emotional and spiritual healing is lost. But, they’re not.

If they really thought All Lives Matter they would be protesting to ensure the safety and well being of those in retail, restauranting and the rest of the service industry who they want to go back to work so them these modern day slave drivers can get their haircuts, and their shitty pabst beers, and their fireworks. They’re not. They would be protesting to ensure that day care providers and teachers and everyone else necessary for working parents to get back to work would be provided for. They’re not.

If All Lives Matter than they’d be concerned with those on the front lines trying to save lives, including but not limited to the doctors, nurses and related medical professionals, the support staff from cafe workers to janitorial services, the morticians and morgue staff, and more. They’d be protesting to ensure these people are safe. Are provided for. Are going to be there for them if they or a family member should be ill for any reason. But, these protesters are not.

All lives don’t matter to the protesters. Again, it really began and in many ways continues to be just a racist attempt at undermining the #BlackLivesMatter movement. All Lives didn’t exist until Black Lives mattering did. And, it shows in how All Lives only gets dragged out in response to Black Lives and NEVER in situations when it should be applicable like ensuring the safety of everyone from the pandemic of Covid-19. There’s plenty of All Lives stuff they could be protesting for, but aren’t. They’re a bunch of selfish, self-serving, me me me now now now petulant little babies who’s only care is self-gratification NOT “all lives” as they proclaim when it’s convient to their racism, their sexism, their anti-lgbtqism, the rest of their xenophobia.

Third, you know Cops fearing for their lives is generally bullshit. If these Cops are willing to stand calmly, face to face with armed protesters verbally threatening them, and sometimes physically accosting them, in many cases without PPE and without riot gear, or anything really other than their day-to-day uniforms, then these Cops are fully capable to deal with an unarmed minority “suspect” without killing them in the field.

The fact that white “protesters” that were likely in violation of a number of local ordinances were only met, in most cases, with hardly a verbal response from cops, forget about essentially no arrests and definitely no one dying, pretty much tells you everything about privilege when it comes down to how law enforcement elects to “enforce” the law. Cops selectively enforce laws because they can and the rest of the justice system generally shields from responsibility when they decide to act as judge, jury and executioner rather than just enforcing laws (or in this case they aren’t held accountable for selectively choosing NOT to enforce laws).

Forth, it’s never been about the Constitution. Not for the “protesters” and not for the Cops. When minorities, and their allies, exercise their First Amendment Rights to speech, petition and gathering they are slandered and their causes chastised. They are called rioters and confronted with weapons: gas, rubber bullets, billy clubs, water cannons, sound cannons, and more. They’re arrested on trumped up charges. They’re retaliated against by the so-called justice system. But, when whites like this do the same things they are hailed as heroes, mostly by a bunch of racist bigots like Trump, who selectively apply uninformed interpretations of what one’s Constitutional Rights really are.

And, lets not even pretend the exercise of the Second Amendment isn’t being played to a double standard here. Armed blacks would have been immediately dealt with in whatever manner necessary. Considering how Cops “fear for their lives” so often around minorities, chances are armed non-whites would have been killed on the spot.

And, then there’s that 10th States Rights thing that the Trumpublikkkans keep tripping over too. They can’t make up their mind if it’s a local issue or a Federal issue. It’s almost as if whatever is better for their whiteness personally is now the Constitution should be interpreted in terms of Fed-State relationships.

Fifth, let’s stop pretending that it’s about the Rule of Law or Respect for the Law even outside of the Constitution. When white people perceive minorities not following the law ,as a white lay person might interpret said law, the white person gets all self-righteous and indignant and says the minority got what was coming to them for not following the law.

Well, here’s a bunch of white folk who are not following the law. And, they are proud of it. Some of the laws they’re not following are the SAME laws they get upset when they think minorities are not following. It’s a double standard. It’s white privilege at its core. It’s racism at its core.

And, if you’re looking at these scenes and siding with the “protesters” but never showed empathy toward minorities protesting, or ever complained about or criticized any #BlackLivesMatter protest, any #WomensMarch protests, any #OccupyWallstreet protests, any Native American protest, etc. you’re probably a self-centered racist and your privilege is showing. If the “law” is supposed to apply equally to everyone then there’s no reason whatsoever unarmed blacks following police officer instructions should be treated so much different from heavily armed whites who are not following the instructions of their mayor and governor and the cops they’re accosting.

Finally, for now, while it might only be a few people in the crowd carrying Confederate Flags, Nazi symbols and other regalia of hate the fact that the rest of the “protesters” didn’t take action against such displays, didn’t condemn those displays when interviewed by the press, etc. and allow those displays to continue to occur gathering after gathering should be a very stark reminder that this is as much about race, the oppression of minorities who are the ones that will be forced back to work, and the privilege of whites who just want what they want for themselves as it is anything else. Spin the actions of these protesters all you want, it doesn’t change the fact that they’re allowing, ney supporting Hate Speech as part of their representation.

If you didn’t already have a feeling that the protests were racially tinged before this than you’re probably cringing reading this. Unfortunately, most people cringing are probably for the wrong reasons and thinking, if not muttering to themselves, how I’m an embarassment to my race at worst or at best trying to rationalize their own racism by continuing to make idle excuses for ALL of these behaviors the same way they make excuses when an avowed neo-nazi or white supremist goes on a killing spree. Y’all Queda indeed.

For todays music I needed to shift gears a little in order to get out of this headspace before it became overwhelming to me

20 albums, 20 days
Tagged by Rob via Kevin

–the “influence” of concept records–

Day four: Iron Maiden – Seventh Son of the Seventh Son – 1988

Although my personal journey with Maiden began with “Somewhere in Time,” “Seventh Son” was actually the ‘new’ album out as I was becoming a fan and I remember being terribly disappointed in the “Can I Play With Madness” single when it was released as compared to what I’d become accustomed to moving through the likes of “Powerslave” and “Piece of Mind” in my early fandom. Thankfully, I stuck with “Seventh Son” because it’s become an easy top-three in a catalog that could have a ten-way tie for top-three worthy records.

“Seventh Son” as an album took what Iron Maiden alluded to with “Alexander the Great,” “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” “To Tame the Land” and “Hallowed Be They Name” to their logical conclusion of an entire thematic album experience as opposed to a single epic track to close out already epic albums. From the opening minstrel melody dissolving into the shredding of “Moodchild” to the shifting tempos and sonic tapestry of “Infinite Dreams” it’s immediately apparent this is not your typical Maiden experience. By the time you reach the leviathan nature of the nearly 10 minute title track as the album’s centerpiece you’ve had a pop-metal single and a classic Maiden anthem. And the back-half of the record attempts to do the same in reverse.

There’s ample gallops course and the familiar 3-3-2 8/8 is out in full force, as are the big harmonized guitar leads and siren screams but there’s also keyboards, extended melodic bass passages, and extensive use of Dickenson’s lower register. So it’s quintessentially a Maiden record and yet one of the most unique releases within the catalog at the same time. Also, while I hate to admit the band did half-ass the story-line, it’s also probably fortunate because it came out perfect in its own right (and anything more prog definitely would have changed the trajectory of the band moreso than what happened after anyhow).

As for food, this is actually my partner’s family recipe, I don’t take credit for it at all (so also any transcription errors are not my fault, I’m just writing down what I’m thinking I’m seeing)

Farfalle with sundried tomatoes, veggies and cannellini beans

nice big stock pot and a smaller saucier
sundried tomatoes in oil
cannellini beans (cooked and drained)
broccoli florets
artichoke hearts
salt and cracked black pepper

optional
stock (veggie preferably)
herbs (dried or fresh basil, oregano, parsley, fennel fronds, marjoram, etc)
hard cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Toscano/Romano, etc)
Red pepper flakes
garlic (pressed or finely chopped)
onion (finely diced)
asparagas

Cook the Farfalle shy of al dente according to the package in the big stock pot of salted water or veggie stock. At the very end of the cooking add the broccoli (and any other raw veggies) to blanch.

While the pasta cooks make the “sauce” out of the sun dried tomatoes in oil in the saucier. The really simple version is the tomatoes, oil, water or stock, and some seasoning. I personally prefer leaving the tomatoes as they come out of the container but different versions of this use hand copping, a food processor, or immersion blender to cut them down. I also found I prefer the version using water over the version using stock. It’s pretty rich with the oil from the tomatoes without the extra layer here honestly. This is also where you can add any combination of other herbs and spices of your choosing.

Once the pasta and blanched veggies are drained after cooking, return to the stock pot and toss over low heat the remaining already cooked ingredients such as the beans and artichoke hearts along with most of the sauce (retain some for serving). Give a few minutes to allow the flavors to all combine and meld.

Serve with the extra sauce on the side, along with the grated hard cheese and both extra cracked black pepper and as desired the red pepper flakes (I do enjoy mine with a little extra oomph)

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