Saturday, August 13, 2005

So Eat It, Just Eat It

The baloon was as high as my cholesterol, or at least that's what my eye doctor saidIn my youth I ate anything that wasn’t good for me. And if something was good for me, I would even try it going so far as to routinely refuse salads that would come with entrée’s at restaurants. I had to save room for some grease covered main course. And this all took place under the supervision of my parents. When I move off to college, thing would get worse. Well balanced breakfasts were replaced by Pop Tarts and the occasional glazed doughnut. On the weekends, the campus McDonalds ran a special foe the 20 piece McNugget and that would suffice for a meal or two each weekend. Plus my dorm room would constantly be stocked with Gummy Bears & M&M’s although the dorm mates ate their fair share of my stuff. Although in my defense, it wasn’t all bad, I long ago cut carbonated drinks (sans beer while in college) out of my diet and only have two cans a month

Then a couple years ago, I was getting my eyes checked when my eye doctor gave me a weird prognosis: I had high cholesterol. You may be wondering, like I did, how an eye doctor can give such a diagnosis. Apparently the body leaves cholesterol deposits in your eyes that cannot be removed. This happens to everyone and it not at all harmful. My problem, as the doctor explained, was I had the cholesterol build up of some one almost three times my age. At that moment, I sensed my own mortality for the first time.

So I went on a health kick after that. I routinely ate salads and avoided fast food except for picking up the occasional salad there. I even started reading labels for the first time in my life and even learned the difference between good cholesterol and the bad kind. I would only splurge on special occasions like holidays and cook-outs.

Then after about two months on the health kick, I saw an ad for free cholesterol screening. After hearing that my cholesterol was so high from the eye doctor, I figured I’d check out exactly how high the number was. Granted I had to be dragged there due to my overwhelming fear of needles, but free helped ease the tension a little. So after the test, I waited patiently for a couple weeks eating my salads until the results came back. And when the results finally arrived, I found something shocking: not only was my cholesterol wasn’t high, it was abnormally low for someone like me according to my mom, who happens to be a nurse. So that day, all the salads, and other health foods went in the trash and diners was catered by McDonalds for a week straight.

But once my cholesterol high went down, I realized that someday my cholesterol will rise considering my family tree is littered with such problems. So today I find myself in a happy medium between my eating habits of my youth and the months I was a health nut.

Better than anything you can find at a Santana ConcertThat leads me to today (wow, that took a while, but anyways). Recently I have had some digestive problems and realized that I needed to get more food with antioxidants. Last week, as I was at the grocery store, there was just happened to be a display of green tea with antioxidants. Ask and you shall receive. So I picked up a box. The only problem is I’ve never drunk tea before, nor have really been around people who drank it aside from ice tea. So not knowing any better, I took the tea bag and put it in a tall class of water and let it soak for a couple minutes. And when I drank the tea, it basically tasted like water. I was later told that you are supposed to use hot water unlike the strait from the refrigerator like did. It would have been nice had they put the intrusions on the box. (Granted upon further inspection, there were, indeed, intrusions on the box. What can I say, I’m a dude.) Ponce, where are you?So on the second try the other night, I went ahead and boiled some water and poured it over the bag. But there is one major problem with that, It’s (expletive deleted) hot. It was an hour before it was cool enough to drink. Then when I drank it, I started to sweat profusely and had a feeling I hadn’t felt since the last Santana concert I attended. I even ended up chasing the green tea with a can of Dr. Pepper. And that lasted all night as I woke up a few times in a puddle of sweat multiples time.

So the moral to this story is 1) never trust your eye doctor when he gives you his diagnosis of your cholesterol level and 2) to all the kiddies out there, never grow old. Seriously, where Ponce De Leon when you need him?

Friday, August 12, 2005

I'd Rather Play You on My TV

Tommyland: The Ride - Tommy Lee

Tommy Lee might as well be the male counterpart of Paris Hilton. Yeah he has a steady job, but let’s be honest, he’s always been more famous for who he’s dated and his extra curricular activities rather than any of his music especially since the hair-metal was killed by grunge. Trying to find a niche in music since he originally split from , Tommy has everything including trying to ride the rap-metal craze of the late 90’s, not with much success. Tommy is back with a new album, , riding in on the wave of mellow rockers such as Nickelback. Oh, and not so coincidentally, the album coincides with his new reality series. Well he needs to keep up with Paris.

The album start off on a bad foot when I actually thought that the song was skipping, but it took me a while to realize that the song was supposed to sound like that. Good Time then diverts into what amounts to a post-Fly Sugar Ray song. Well except Mark McGrath is a better singer. The songs on the album defiantly sound better when Lee hands off the vocal duties to his all-star friends. And by all-star, I mean people who are less than five years away from appearing on The Surreal Life. The dude from helps out on Sister Mary, the dude from lends a hand to Tryin’ to be Me, Tommy duets with on Makin’ Me Crazy, and Nick Carter (yes from the Backstreet Boys and ironically former boy toy of Paris) makes an appearance during the surprisingly sweet Say Goodbye. Tommy really can’t bring in the quality of acts that can on his recent star studded albums.

The Madden brothers of Good (well let’s be honest, Mediocre) Charlotte, the dude Sum41 (you know, the one who also dated Paris), and appear on the most unintentionally funny song in a while, Tired. The song sounds like a diversion of GC’s Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous with lyrics like, “Tommy got tired of Pamela, Ed got tired of Salma, Puffy got tired of JLo and Ben did too.” But the song is much funnier than anything GC can do. And I’m sure Ed, Puffy (although my sources tell me it’s just Diddy now, but you can’t fault Tommy for not keeping up), Ben, and Hef (who gets namedropped later) are all wondering, “Why are you dragging us into your drama?” In the end, Tommy is still trying to find his voice, but apparently until then, he is content with biting other people’s style.

Song to Download – Makin’ Me Crazy (unless you want a good laugh, then check out Tired)

Tommyland: The Ride gets a Terror Alert Level: Guarded [BLUE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Yell Out in Defiance

The Fuse - Pennywise

Pennywise has been making pure punk music for over a decade even as the pseudo-punk bands of today like and band of their ilk have watered down the genre lately. Even Pennywise’s contemporary in the so-cal scene, , has moved in a more pop direction lately. But Pennywise has shown on their latest album, The Fuse, they have no signs of softening up anytime soon.

On the album, which is still being released by the legendary Epitaph label, the guitars are still loud, the drums are fast, and the boys are still angry. So any old fan or true punk fan will enjoy this album. And being their first album since the election, songs about the state of the world since take precedent. On Dying, “Polarized lies of the fascist sleaze, Lining up the shadowed gaze, Beheaded for a shallow grave, Whoring in complacency.” Then on 18 Soldier, the band takes a look at the loss of war, “18 fathers visit the graves, Locked in violence resigned to their fate, Fallen Idols are cracked at the base, Hollow silence alone in their place, Retaliation is blind, With underestimated losses of life”

The media also gets their knocks on the album. The band could do without the media as a whole during Disconnect, “Just too much information, Electronic Stimulation, All this media saturation, Just gives me more aggravation.” They also focus in on Fox New with the aptly titled Fox TV, “Make way for the next sensation, Factual Manipulation, Stay tuned for the next creation, Department of misinformation.” But then again, who isn’t getting tired of the 24 hour news stations who spend more time making news than reporting it.

The biggest problem with the album is that, even at 42 minutes, the album seems to wear on to long. Towards the end, it gets really hard to distinguish one song from another. They could have trimmed the album down a little to give the listeners a better ability to digest the songs properly.

Song to Download – Fox TV

The Fuse gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

You Came Out of Nowhere, Made Me Smile

Why Should the Fire Die? - Nickel Creek

I never really listened to Nickel Creek. All I had to know that my sister liked them and that was enough for me to stay away. Added that I was under the impression that they were country gave me extra reason to stay away. But I gave a listen to their latest album, Why Should the Fire Die? when some one mentioned that the album was heavier, I decided to throw away any preconceived notions and give it an unbiased listen. I was pleasantly surprised at what I heard. The country label isn’t really a good one for the band as bluegrass would be a better one as their sound would fit better on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack than in the Boot Scootin’ Saloon.

Why Should the Fire Die? starts off with one of my favorite phrases, When in Rome. It fit my experience for the album perfectly as a newbie to Nickel Creek. Although When in Rome is partly sarcastic pointing out it’s not always good to “do as the Romans do.” Going with the flow can sometimes turns out bad: “Where can a teacher go, wherever she thinks people need the things she knows. Hey those books you gave us look good on the shelves at home and they'll burn 'em in the fireplace. Teacher, when in Rome.” A bad break up is at the root of Some One Like You. “I hope you meet someone your height so you can see eye-to-eye with someone as small as you.” All I have to say is ouch. Elsewhere on the album, there are a few relationship song as seen by the titles; Eveline, Anthony, Doubting Thomas, Helena.

There are three instrumental songs here, usually an instant fast forward moment when not associated with a Pink Floyd album, but all of them from Nickel Creek held my interest. Scotch & Chocolate, a wonderful combination by the way, starts out slow and builds to a good down home feeling. On Stumptown, the group takes turns trading solos on their respective instruments. The First and Last Dance is an airy song that does sound like it was influenced by a Pink Floyd instrumental or two.

The highlight of the album is whenever the female of the group takes over the lead vocals such as on the song Tomorrow is a Long Time. Also there is Anthony which sounds like it was recorded back in the time of Leadbelly. She also takes over a verse in another great song, Best of Luck. For the guys, Can’t Complain is their standout track. The guy is trying to convince himself, since he warned his partner that he was a man, anything he does should be excused. "I told her I could love her, I told her I could lie, so she can’t complain." This a trick every guy should try.

Song to Download – Tomorrow is a Long Time

Why Should the Fire Die? gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

State Your Peace

Looking for Lucky - Hootie and the Blowfish

Back in 94, I was watching Letterman, which I did obsessively back then, and caught a brand new band perform one of the most refreshing song I’ve heard for the longest time. The next day, I strolled down to the local Borders and picked up Hootie and the Blowfish’s Cracked Rear View. For me, it the best pop album ever made, any song on it could have been a hit. From there, I religiously drank the Hootie kool-aid, buying up shirts, hats, towels and playing the album for anyone who would listen. Months later, as everyone knows the story by now, they exploded with Hold My Hand, Let Her Cry, and Only Wanna Be with You getting played on the radio about once every half an hour. I had one buddy of mine told me he knew Hootie was over exposed the moment his sister bought their CD.

With Fairweather Johnson, the band expanded their horizon taking more chances. Same goes for Musical Chairs although there were some missteps on that album. By the time their self titled album came around, it seemed they had fallen into a rut. None of the songs really stood out or compared with earlier triumphs. Darius Rucker did bounce back on his solo album, Back to Then, so I did have hope going their latest album.

But the boys settled back into their self-titled rut with the release of Looking For Lucky as there are not many stand out tracks that are on par with their earlier work or even Darius’ solo project. Leaving comes close with its bluegrass influence and harmonies by a female vocalist. The closer, Waltz into Me feature a mandolin set to, obviously, a waltz. Get Out of My Mind is the best “pop” song on the album. But the other songs just seem to run into each other and before you notice, the album is done.

Hootie has become more overtly political on this album. Granted that have touch on issues such as racism in the past, but they were at times subversive. The opener, State Your Peace, is an ode to our first amendment rights. Yet a couple songs later, they also encourage people to make sure they watch what they say with The Killing Stone. Another Year’s Gone By, which has a great guitar hook, is about dealing with the effect that 9/11 had on our society years after the fact. Looking for Lucky, as a whole, is better than the self titled album, but I’m still waiting for something as good as the albums they made during the 90’s.

Song to Download – Leaving

Looking for Lucky gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Monday, August 08, 2005

A Melancholy Happy Trails to Peter Jennings

Sorry for the small post today, was stuck most of day golfing (or whatever you call what I do on a golf course, many would argue what I do should not be called golfing), then had some family obligations to do afterwards where I won the annual McGavin family croquet match. I would like to take some time to honor Peter Jennings. Even though I was a Tom Brokaw kind of guy, I still liked to check out other news coverage on election nights and other major events and really enjoyed his commentaries on them. I also check out a few of his special investigation that were always well done. For more on the life of Jennings, check out ABC News anchor Peter Jennings dies at 67.

Just a quick note, there will be a few (I’m shooting for four right now) album reviews up this week with music ranging from rock to pop to bluegrass to punk, so look out for that starting tomorrow and should have one out every day until Friday.

Also, as I’m sure the repeat viewers can tell, I put up a new background yesterday, any feedback on that would be much appreciated.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Car Mix - August '05

Here are some song to listen to that will fit on a single CD that you can play in your car, at the beach, a barbeque, or anywhere that need some summer music to dance to.

1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Live 8) – Paul McCartney & U2 (I started off this CD with two of my performances from the Live 8 concerts.)
2. Bittersweet Symphony (Live 8) – Coldplay & Richard Ashcroft
3. Fix You – Coldplay (One of the few songs on their latest album that stands up to their earlier work.)
4. City of Blinding Light – U2
5. All These Things I’ve Done – The Killers (This song features one of my favorite lyrics in recent memory, “I got soul, but I’m not a soldier.”)
6. Somebody Rock Me – The Clash vs. The Killers (This is a killer mash-up, lame pun intended.)
7. Son’s Gonna Rise – Citizen Cope & Santana (A cool song that you may recognize from a recent car commercial. This guy should be getting a lot more publicity than he’s getting.)
8. The Harder They Come – Willie Nelson (A country artist doing a reggae song? Only Willie, and a whole lot of pot, can pull that off.)
9. Portions for Foxes – Rilo Kiley (Depressingly sad lyrics dressed up with bouncing music makes this song pop gold.)
10. Me Plus One – Annie (iTunes Single of the Week has been offering up some bland music recently, but my ears pop up when I first heard this. It is quite possibly the best pop song since the 80’s. The song would fit very well in a Tom Tom Club album.)
11. These Word – Natasha Bedingfield (When I first heard this song, I wasn’t very impressed, but by the end I was sing, “I love you, I love you, I love you,” right with the song.)
12. She Said – Brie Larson (Not as good as the previous three in the pop department, but a lot better than the overproduced music clogging the radio these days.)
13. Love Love Love – Tristan Prettyman (Check of my review of her album – I Wish You Couldn’t Take Your Eyes Off of Me.)
14. Spending One of These Nights with Kelly – The Eagles vs. Kelly Clarkson (This is one of the most disturbingly entertaining songs ever created.)
15. Pon De Replay – Rihanna (Introducing this summer’s ubiquitous club anthem. Although if you played it back to back with last year’s ubiquitous club anthem, Move Ya Body, I’m not sure if I could tell them apart.)
16. Go – Common, John Mayer & Kanye West (Hip-hop good boy gets help getting dirty with Mr. You Body is a Wonderland and the Workout Plan King.)
17. Diamonds Are Forever (Remix) – Kanye West & Jay-Z (I mentioned this song a couple weeks ago in regards to its blood diamonds topic, check it out here – Throw Up Your Diamonds Like You’re Bulimic.)
18. Mind on the Road – Reverend Run (Sampling Joan Jett’s I Love Rock n Roll, this song rivals anything he did with Run-DMC. Just skip the cheesy video, but if you must, click here.)