Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cats

Cats will be cats, and cats will be cruel,
Cats can be callous, and cats can be cool,
Cats will be cats, remember these words:
Cats will be cats and cats eat birds.
"Facts About Cats" - Timbuk 3

I guess there are worse things in life than devoting ones life to a cat. After all, they can't provide for themselves and they can't look after themselves - other than the occasional tongue cleaning or scratching post maintenance.
Like those personal ads that proclaim "Likes dancing." Name me 3 guys who would dance if it weren't for women dancing. Can't do it. I also "like fine dining." Big deal, who doesn't? Run an ad that says "Likes mediocre dining" and see what kind of responses you get.
I don't think we know what we want, which is why the divorce rate is so high. Otherwise, we'd hook up for life like our miserable parents did. Of course, the job market wasn't as high for mom as it is for new-mom, so that says a lot - but still...
There are a lot of worse things to do with our lives than to make life comfortable for a shelter cat, and I guess I'm doing that for the second time in my life, which is more than I can say for the women I've met along the way.
He sleeps at my feet, follows me around and generally pays attention to me; so I guess it's the least I can do to make him comfortable. I'm not asking for a woman to do those things for me, but two out of three wouldn't be bad.
I'm broken, and if having a cat to care for fixes me some, than I'm all for it. Otherwise, I'll have to go about life caring for myself, and that's a short-term investment.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

So, do we call it "Black Thursday" now?

Wednesday was one of those oddball mid-week holidays that not everyone gets. While I appreciate the reason, I wonder why Veteran's Day needs to remain November 11, and isn't subjected to the American 3-day weekend treatment that other holidays endure. It's the same reason that Election Day should be on a Saturday, to allow as many people as possible to vote. Some traditions are way too engrained in our national habits and need to be changed, while others ...
A year after an unruly crowd trampled a worker to death at a Wal-Mart store, the nation’s retailers are preparing for another Black Friday, the blockbuster shopping day after Thanksgiving. Last year, frenzied shoppers at a Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, N.Y., trampled Jdimytai Damour, a temporary store worker who died soon afterward. To prevent any repeat, Wal-Mart has sharply changed how it intends to manage the crowds. That new plan, developed by experts who have wrangled throngs at events like the Super Bowl and the Olympics, will affect how customers approach and enter the stores, shop, check out and exit.
The most significant change at Wal-Mart is that the majority of its discount stores (as opposed to its Supercenters) will open Thanksgiving morning at 6 a.m. and stay open through Friday evening. Last year, those stores closed Thanksgiving evening and reopened early Friday morning. By keeping the stores open for 24 hours, Wal-Mart is hoping for a steady flow of shoppers instead of mammoth crowds swelling outside its stores in the wee hours of Friday.
So, the answer to crowd control is having the stores open on a holiday. Nice. I'm wondering how the hordes of Christmas shoppers are going to work-in a visit to Wal-Mart with their holiday feast.
"Gee, I'd like to stick around for some mince meat pie, but there's a $99 GPS on sale at Wal-Mart, and I want to get there before the white trash scoops them up."
Happy Thanksgiving.
Meanwhile, the people in the service industry get crapped on once again. Like it wasn't bad enough that they had to work long hours during the holidays for minimum wage, now they have to be there on Thanksgiving so Bubba can get his cheap laptop. Why? Because shoppers trampled someone to death last year in their rush to get a $25 DVD player.
"We are committed to looking for ways to make our stores even safer for our customers and associates this holiday season,” said David Tovar, a spokesman for Wal-Mart, adding that the retailer was “confident our customers can look forward to a safe and enjoyable shopping experience at Wal-Mart.”
It's most of your customers who should be committed. It's a sad commentary on the state of our society when a retail spokesman has to talk about making their stores "safer for our customers." The Christmas shopping thing has gotten way out of hand, and instead of discontinuing the ridiculous Black Friday price-drop, they decided to leave the stores open on a holiday. That makes good nonsense.
The best solution would have been to stop making such a big deal out of Black Friday and conduct business as usual. If they want to put their junk on sale, it can be done just as easily on December 4 as it can on November 27 or any other day in the sacred Christmas shopping season.
But God forbid they give up their precious discount day. Rather than punish people for being giant asses, they enable the behavior by ... anyone? ... opening the stores on the holiday! That will fix it.
Sometimes I don't understand you humans.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A tale of woe.

I used to love music. I went to a lot of shows and bought a lot of records. Yes, records. Now, not so much.
In those days - we're talking about the mid 70's to early 80's - music was adventurous, exciting and interesting. I think it's because none of us knew what money was or how to make it.
Bands like Gentle Giant, Focus, Manfred Mann's Earth Band and Emerson, Lake and Palmer played big houses and sold lots of records. Enough, at least, to keep them in business and earn money for their record companies. It was enough to be artistically interesting, sell-out a venue like the 3,600 seat Tower Theater and sell some records; even though their music didn't get played on mainstream radio stations. In fact, the idea that their music wasn't played on mainstream radio was a badge of honor.
We would peruse local record stores in search of the next interesting band. We'd trace their family trees to see who left which band and where they landed. Bill Bruford left Yes to join King Crimson. Buy the next Crimson record. Peter Banks left Yes to form Flash. Check out Flash. Keith Emerson was quoted in the latest issue of Circus magazine saying that Genesis was his favorite band. Buy a few Genesis albums and find out why. That's how we heard stuff like "Lark's Tongues in Aspic," "Small Beginnings" and "Supper's Ready," the 22-minute epic that for some reason I can recite the lyrics to. Probably because I've listened to it so many times it's etched in my brain like musical Mount Rushmore.
All of those people are either in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or settled nicely into retirement. The days of experimental rock music are gone. They're gone because experimental rock music doesn't earn any money. All it does is make musicians happy, and that's not profitable.
Now, we manufacture stars on television. We group them into marketable icons and parade them in front of an audience who presumably votes on their favorites. The most marketable ones are thrust upon us like the flu, and we're powerless to resist. It's music disguised as a big marketing machine. If Keith Emerson was dead he'd be rolling over in his grave.
As for me, I've chosen to ignore the big marketing machines, as I did when I was young. It's a consistent behavior that I am proud to say I've grown into as an older adult. Some things need to stay with you. There are a handful of bands like Umphrey's McGee, Gov't Mule and The Derek Trucks Band that sell their wares on the road playing for tiny houses in front of devoted fans with little or no radio play, but the sense of adventure is gone. Maybe I don't have the energy for it or maybe it no longer exists. Either way, music ain't what it used to be - which is something I can say for a lot of things.
For one thing, we don't have record stores any more. What few big-time music chains still exist are selling the television stars and radio exposed artists because they can't afford to stock CDs that might sell a piddly ten thousand copies. It's all about the bottom line.
That's the sad part. Music has become a corporate venture. No longer can people like Kate Bush, Peter Hammill or Focus get a recording contract, and if you can't get a deal you probably can't afford to continue. So, bands are left to market their own music, and that requires a lot more work on the part of the listener and even more on the part of the artist. They're fighting against a huge machine that starts with television.
Like a lot of things, it isn't going to be what it was, and people like me are left with the memories of picking through records looking for the next interesting thing. Something to stimulate me and make me think - two qualities that seem to be sadly lacking in the world of corporate music. It's a shame that an entire generation of music-loving people will be denied the simple pleasure of finding a gem among the rubble, because the musical family tree now consists of the audition for the television show, followed by the marketing campaign that produces the album that is thrust on us by the machine that produced the television show.
That isn't art. It's just marketing.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Not much to say today

So, we'll just look at a cat half asleep on my sofa.