Saturday, February 15, 2014

"Friends of Dorothy" Not Welcome in Kansas

An interesting bill just passed the Kansas House of Representatives. And by "interesting" I mean shocking and rather repulsive.

This bill allows anyone to refuse to provide “services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges; counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services; or provide employment or employment benefits” to anyone suspected of being complicit in celebrating or enabling the commitment of any kind of a gay couple.

 Read that and think about it for a minute. This is 2014 and elected officials are trying to pass a Jim Crow law for gay people. Can you fire someone for being gay? Yes. Can you deny someone a seat in a restaurant? Sure. And what about that "complicit in celebrating" clause? Can you fire straight people who attend a gay wedding? Yep, according to the language of the bill. Will the bakery who makes a cake for said wedding suddenly not be able to get its garbage collected? Perhaps.

This bill isn't even a law yet. Maybe the Kansas state senate is an institution of enlightened individuals who don't want to be on the wrong side of history. Yeah, so this is probably going to be a law soon.

 I'm not sitting in my glass shanty hut here in Kentucky casting stones at Kansas, by the way. We have a state constitutional amendment, voted on by the citizens of the Commonwealth in 2004, that prohibits gay marriage. I wasn't living here in 2004, but I was living in Nevada, where that same year they passed the "Sanctity of Marriage Act." In Las Vegas, a guy dressed as Elvis will marry two drunk strangers for 75 bucks. But those drunk strangers better be one male and one female, or the whole thing is just a farce! And have you seen Vegas' biggest entertainment draw, Cirque du Solei? I don't think it's a controversial statement to say there's some capital "G" Gay in Cirque du Solei. Please entertain us, but take your committed relationships back to Europe, thank you very much.

This outrageous Kansas bill aside, the tide is turning. Even in Kentucky, 55% of residents oppose gay marriage, compared to 74% ten years ago. Keep in mind this is Kentucky, where 60% think President Obama was born in a Shiite mosque. However, and I can't state this emphatically enough, IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE ARE FOR BASIC CIVIL RIGHTS!!! You can't vote for civil rights. Civil rights are not a referendum on a library tax or an election to see who gets to be state comptroller. How would an integration vote have gone in Birmingham in 1964? They call them "rights" for a reason.

And let's be clear, the issue of gay marriage is a civil rights issue. It isn't cultural warfare, or someone pushing an agenda on the rest of us. It's the right of tax paying, law abiding U.S. citizens, consenting adults, to get married. Some will say, "My religion doesn't approve of gay marriage." Well then, that changes everything. Should we start stoning women who show their faces in public? Because someone's religion doesn't approve of that, either. Some others will say, "I find homosexuality offensive." I find Kanye West and Kim Kardashian offensive, but they're married, aren't they? "Oh, you want the legal right to be with your lifelong partner on his/her deathbed? Sorry, I find your lifestyle distasteful, SO GO GRIEVE SOMEWHERE ELSE WHILE YOUR LOVED ONE DIES ALONE." Perfectly understandable.

Why is every single social advance in this country such a god damn struggle?

Friday, February 7, 2014

What I Hate About Driving

 How do I hate driving? Let me count the ways...

- I'm perpetually trapped between someone in front of me who insists on driving 20 mph under the limit and someone behind me who wants to break the land speed record. I'll let you guess who is a woman who can't see over the steering wheel and is old enough to have had a crush on a pre-diabetus Wilford Brimley, and who is a teenager trying to drive while texting, watching Scareface on DVD, and tilting his hat "just so" in the rear view mirror.

- Every day I go to and from work on Westport Road. For those of you lucky enough to have never been on this highway to suburban hell, it is a five lane road from St Matthew's to just past where I work. After that it becomes the kind of road that Buford Pusser died on, but I don't have to drive on that part, thank god.

So there are five lanes - two eastbound, two westbound, and one turning lane in the middle. Yes, the government was nice enough to build a turning lane for miles, and even allows idiot libertarians to use it, just as it solves their crimes, puts out their fires, and educates their unruly children. But that's not the point. The point is, NO ONE SEEMS TO KNOW HOW TO USE THIS MAGICAL WONDER LANE! Every single day, someone comes to a complete stop in the fast lane, and then slooooooowly eases into the turning lane as drivers behind them slam on their brakes and curse. A lot. Sometimes,  a driver - usually the moron directly in front of me -  decides he needs to turn, so he abruptly swerves diagonally, hence blocking the turning lane AND the fast lane. This person, who has never been less than eighty years old, obliviously blocks traffic until he feels he can safely maneuver his city block-long gas guzzling Ford LTD into the Kroger parking lot.

- A friend of mine is from Chicago and he says you have about half a second after the light turns green to move your ass before the honking starts. We need to introduce that standard to Louisville. Here, someone can be sitting there for five full seconds and when you honk at them, you get a look like you just interrupted a funeral to talk about how asparagus makes your pee smell funny.

- There are two kinds of drivers in Louisville: those who never, ever use a turn signal, and those who use a turn signal but think it creates a magical force field around their car that allows them to cross multiple lanes of traffic with impunity.

- Some people refuse to turn on their headlights unless it's pitch dark outside. If it's raining or the sun has just gone down, for god's sake go ahead and turn on your damn headlights! I know it's an extra turning motion with your wrist that could eventually lead to crippling arthritis, but take the hit, man.

Enough complaining for now.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


I'll admit up front, I didn't watch one second of the debate between Bill Nye, the Science Person, and Ken Ham, the guy who owns the Creation Museum and believes every word of the Bible is true, even the words that directly contradict other words. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to talk about it.

I saw a headline as soon as the debate was over, proclaiming "Bill Nye Embarrasses Ken Ham." No he didn't. The word embarrass means "to cause to feel self-conscious or ill at ease." Ken Ham believes the Earth was created a year after World War II ended; he wasn't self-conscious or ill at ease up there. I doubt the guy who charges money so yokels can look at a plastic statue of Jesus riding a T-Rex is going to be embarrassed because a former Dancing With the Stars contestant disagrees with him. 

In my humble opinion, the entire thing was a colossal waste of time that achieved two ends: It gave Bill Nye the Science Individual the attention he apparently craves, and it gave free publicity and (in some circles) legitimacy to a museum owned by a guy who thinks our planet is younger than Helen Mirren. I'm sure the pleas for money have already been sent out to every senile aunt in North America.

Hard to believe, but most of my friends fall on the liberal side of the political spectrum, so I saw a lot of "Bill Nye won the debate" posts last night. Never mind that it was the intellectual equivalent of pushing a guy in a wheelchair down a flight of steps; Bill Nye succeeded in convincing a lot of people of something they were 100 percent sure of in the first place. To most of you, Ken Ham had the same chance of winning the debate as I have of scoring a date to the Academy Awards with Jennifer Lawrence.

But did Bill Nye change one mind last night? People who thought of him as a hell-bound heretic 24 hours ago feel the same way now. And now they're more likely to financially support a museum that does nothing but make Kentucky look bad and lump all Christians in with people who think the entire universe was created in less time than it takes to get your taxes back.

They should have just ro sham bo'd for it.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Super Bowl Day Thoughts

This isn't going to be a sports post, because the actual game sucked.

- I tend to eat a lot of cheese on Super Bowl Sunday. Every year I make my famous I-can't-cook-very-well queso dip. It's the large box of Velveeta, a pound of "Hot" Purnell's Country Sausage, two cans of Rotel, and a can of fire-roasted green chilis. It's just white trash enough to be delicious.

-Remember about ten to fifteen years ago when the commercials were kind of entertaining? Now, the only entertainment springs from the mouth breathers who are offended by commercials. This year, Coke had a bunch of people sing "America the Beautiful" in different languages. Now, keep in mind, these people were singing a very PRO American song. Coke didn't roll out Al Qaeda to chant "Death to America" in Arabic while chugging Diet Sprites. But Twitter, where morons gather to count to 140, was full of "Damnit this is America speak English when you sing our national anthem" tweets. First, if you don't know that "America the Beautiful" isn't our national anthem, you forfeit any right to be offended by who sings it. Also, just shut up. For once in your life, shut your sewer mouth.

If I ran the Coca Cola Company, I'd hire a team of translators to decipher cave drawings etched untold thousands of years ago in far away lands by tiny people who were two generations removed from walking on all fours, I'd buy commercial time during the Academy Awards, and I'd have a group of non-white actors sing "God Bless America" in that specific forgotten language.

Then around Christmas time I'd buy time on the Fox News Channel and have a treasure trove of non-English speaking people saying "Happy Holidays" in every major language currently spoken on this planet. This would unite the "Speak English" crowd and the "War on Christmas" crowd, and their collective outrage over something that doesn't affect them in the least would be palpable, and highly amusing.

Seriously, screw those rednecks for making me defend a commercial I thought was kind of corny.

- I hope that if, God forbid, my inability to control my weight causes my early death, people don't take to social media and say "Well, he got what he deserved," because that's exactly what is happening with Philip Seymour Hoffman and his drug addiction.

- I'm guessing a lot of people were crushed to see Bob Dylan selling Chryslers last night, but it didn't really phase me. Sometimes it helps to be part of a generation that realizes that sooner or later, everyone is a car salesman.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

An Old Guy Reviews Old Guy Music

This is a really long post about the Eagles. That's right, the Eagles. I really liked the Eagles when I was a kid, until The Long Run had a disco song on it and I wrote them off. Then I went through a phase where they just weren't weird enough for me. Then Glenn Frey wrote the wretched "Smuggler's Blues" and appeared on Miami Vice and, like most of America, I wished for his death.

Now that I'm so old that even PRETENDING to be cool would just be ridiculous, I realize that, after all these years, I like some Eagles songs.

Recently, I purchased a used copy of the double CD "The Very Best of the Eagles." It's more Eagles than anyone really needs. I don't think Don Henley's children want that much Eagles.

However, that much Eagles is what I purchased. And now I'm going to review every track on this soft rock boondoggle.

Here's a key to the ratings:

**** Four Stars: I really like this song.
*** Three Stars: I like this song.
** Two Stars: Meh. I've heard worse.
* One Star: Blech. I skip these.

Take it Easy ****
Glenn Fry was born in Detroit, so his country twang on this song should bother me, I guess. It doesn't.

Witchy Woman ***
That girl done did Don Henley wrong. He'll have to console himself with several teenage groupies. I totally understand why a lot of people hate Don Henley.

Peaceful Easy Feeling ***
This is the song that's playing when The Dude gets thrown out of the cab in The Big Lebowski for saying he hates the Eagles. That scene is better than this song, but this song is still pretty good.

Desperado ****
This song reminds me of couples skate at the old skating rink. I'd sit alone, drinking a 64oz Coke and eating a giant pretzel, and watch the actual couples skate. Good times?

Tequila Sunrise ***
Like Desperado, but less so.

Doolin - Dalton **
Like Tequila Sunrise, but less so.

Already Gone ***
I'm probably overrating this because of how damn catchy it is.

The Best of My Love **1/2
I once saw a guy sing this at karaoke like his life depended on it. Off key, couldn't hit a single note, but he meant this shit, man! More than the actual Eagles meant it, probably.

James Dean *
As catchy as Already Gone, but in a way that annoys me. I don't know, I don't have to explain myself to you.

OL '55 ***
This is a Tom Waits song. I like to think of Tom taking a swig of cheap whiskey and punching Glenn Frey right in the spleen.

Midnight Flyer **
Original guitarist Bernie Leadon was also a virtuoso banjo player, and he keeps this misbegotten foray into Bluegrass from getting the dreaded "one star" treatment.

On the Border *
Fun Fact: On the Border is also the title of one of their albums. Ok, that wasn't much fun. Sorry.

Lyin' Eyes ***
Like Kayne West's "Golddigger" but for extremely white people.

One of These Nights ***
Glenn Frey has kind of a big nose, so it was almost inevitable that he'd develop a crippling cocaine habit.

Take it to the Limit **
Vocals by original bassist Randy Meisner. Rumor has it that Meisner quit the band after a merciless berating from Glenn Frey for being too sick to hit the high notes of this song in concert. See above for explanation of such behavior.

After the Thrill is Gone ***
Don Henley is a noted douchebag and legendary hypocrite, but he has the perfect voice for the kind of song that a noted douchebag and legendary hypocrite would write.

Hotel California ****
Overplayed? Sure, but I haven't listened to classic rock radio in years.

Life in the Fast Lane **1/2
This song loses a full star and a half because Henley pronounces the word "cruel" as "crew-el." You just can't do that.
Wasted Time *** 
 Damn, this is a lot of Eagles songs.

Victim of Love **
 I think I'm a victim of indifference at this point.
The Last Resort  *1/2
For some reason this song is recorded at a much lower volume than any other song on either of these CDs. That cost it a star. Another half star is lost because Don Henley is singing about the environment, and how "the white man" ruined everything by building buildings (like the mansion Henley lives in) and exhausting natural resources (for the fuel that powers Henley's personal leer jet). 

New Kid in Town ***
I might overrate this song slightly because they play it on the 70s station at work, and it's surrounded by such crap that I'm always relieved when I hear it.

Please Come Home for Christmas ****
I don't like a lot of Christmas music, but this is probably my favorite Christmas song of all time that isn't performed by The Pogues.

Heartache Tonight **
I finally know the secret to the hamfisted nature of this song... It was co-written by Bob Seger.

Sad Cafe **
This might have received three stars had it been earlier on the CD. By the time I got to it I was suffering from intense Don Henley Plaintive Ballad fatique.

I Can't Tell You Why **
New (at the time) bassist Timothy B. Schmitt sings this song, and two stars is the glass ceiling for a song featuring Timothy B. Schmitt on vocals. Seriously, Timothy B. Schmitt singing an Eagles song is like when you get excited to see the Three Stooges on TV, and it turns out to be a Shemp episode.

The Long Run ***
The best song on a not-so-great album of the same name.

In the City ***
Guitarist Joe Walsh sings this one. I once saw him on an episode of Rock and Roll Jeopardy, and Joe Walsh might be the dumbest human alive. He didn't know a single answer. I remember one of the questions being about him and he still got it wrong.

Alex Trebeck: "This Eagles guitarist also had solo hits with 'Rocky Mountain Way' and 'Life Goes On.'"

Joe Walsh: "Uh...Don Felder?"

Those Shoes *
Ugh. Just... ugh. Better than "The Disco Strangler" though.

Seven Bridges Road ****
From their "live" album, which the Eagles admit is the most produced, overdubbed, and edited live recording of all time. I don't care. They went in the studio and replaced Joe Walsh's voice with something harmonious, and the results are pretty good.

Love Will Keep Us Alive **
Okay, this song is utter crap, but I'm giving it an extra star because  Eagles fans waited fourteen years to hear a new Eagles song, and the band let Timothy B. Schmitt sing it. That's some first class trolling right there. Kudos, sirs.

Get Over It (no stars)\
Don Henley and Glenn Frey writing a song complaining about whiny entitlement is as hypocritical as Don Henley and Glenn Frey writing a song complaining about whiny entitlement. Sorry, I couldn't think of a worse example.

Hole in the World *
Their 9/11 song. Maybe the terrorists did win.

That was exhausting.