Jun 302008

So do you know about the Large Hadron Collider? It’s an enormous atom-smasher that’s about to go live, 330 feet beneath parts of France and Switzerland.  It may ultimately cost $10 billion.

There’s some concern that it’s going to make a black hole that will swallow the earth, or make some little killer bits called strangelets, and even if those things don’t happen then it’s going to shrivel up our balls or make all of the orange marmalade go bad or something. Such potentialities are slightly below strontium poisoning on my list of day-to-day concerns, so I’ll probably be the wise-ass who gets sucked into the black hole first.

Anyway, CNN.com has been using this blurb to describe it in a sidebar this afternoon:

Everyone sing along: “All our times have come…”

 Posted by at 7:45 pm
Jun 292008

At 37, my affection for hard rock and heavy metal hasn’t waned significantly. So I spend some of my time and money as a music fan looking for current music that evokes my adolescence. I don’t want it sounding just like what I grew up with; rather I want what I used to steadily receive then, which was music that played by a lot of the same rules, but made a few new ones—pushed in an interesting direction. After all, 1982 doesn’t sound like 1989, but they’re both validly identifiable as part of the same movement. The first Velvet Revolver record was a good example of what I’m talking about. Buckcherry mostly gets it. Copy?

I tried using Amazon.com recommendations (and associated reviews) for a while, with only limited success. The closest I’ve come recently with that method is a band called Poets and Pornstars. The Amazon.com page for the album drips with raves, so I took a chance. It’s not bad, but it’s not “old school” either. It reminds me of nothing so much as a Jet record, which is to say it’s a little over-homogenized, with endless pickoffs available for the guy you know who likes to identify ripped-off riffs.

So let’s talk about Def Leppard a bit. It’s inarguable that they were giants in my beloved ’80s, and a true juggernaut, at least through Hysteria. (Try to look past its overexposure, which was substantial indeed.)

But in 1992, it got complicated. Adrenalize was okay, but a little too paint-by-numbers (lacking that “push” mentioned above). Then, it was a nose-dive into goontown. Retro Active was somewhat interesting, but hardly widely appealing, and 1996’s Slang was a U2ified disaster. Euphoria tried to get it back, but came out slicker than a greased otter in a teflon skillet. (Rock ‘n’ roll needs a little nastiness, and you can’t push the buttons and move the slides endlessly. If I want hyperproduction, I’m also a fan of The Human League.) X? Pop. Not Def Leppard. Yeah!? I enjoyed the cover of “Rock On,” actually, but come on, guys, where’s the spiritual follow-up to Hysteria?

I’m pleased to report that Songs from the Sparkle Lounge is that follow-up. This is the Def Leppard album that is 20 years overdue. No apologies or qualifications, dudes and dolls. This is it. If you think I’m correct in my above description of Def Leppard’s decline, and you’ve been similarly wistful for them to get it right, go buy it right now.

It’s lean. It comes in at a little under 40 minutes, prompting some complaints about its (lack of) length. It suits me just fine. I always liked it when an album would fit on one side of a 90-minute cassette. Plus, during the trend of longer albums back in the day, they were mostly good albums made less so by puffing them up with crap anyway. Use Your Illusion, anyone? Hot in the Shade?

The production is slick, but Hysteria was slick too. Even Pyromania and High ‘n’ Dry were, within their respective budgetary constraints. But none of them were overly so. They all translated to the arena beautifully. It’s crunchy rock ‘n’ roll, faithful to both the record and the front row, and that’s a whole lot of the point to me, folks.

There’s enough novelty in tracks like “Go” and “Love” to hit that push, but not offend. The innovative stretch is measured and consistent, rather than ridiculous and contrived. Think (again) of Hysteria. Did the title cut “fit”? Did “Gods of War”? Be honest! You can argue either side of that, can’t you? But do those tracks compromise or enhance the album?

I’ll quit dissecting there, because, well, it’s a good-time rock ‘n’ roll album. Mostly you just need to get it and crank the hell out of it. It’s cruising with your friends. It’s burgers and fries before the concert 20 years ago. You can’t not smile. You can’t not move, whether it’s toe-tapping, head-bobbing, or whatever. They may never do it again, but our favorite Sheffielders managed one more honest-to-God Def Leppard album.

Summer 2008 has a soundtrack.

 Posted by at 12:26 pm
Jun 282008

We decided to go to the air show today.  I can’t recall ever attending one before, and how often do you get an opportunity to see the Blue Angels?

I think the event was a slight net positive, but the negatives were non-negligible.  Lunch was eight million dollars and mediocre, even for mobile vendor fare.  The weather was a solid C (hot and humid; would have been a D+ without the breeze), and the parking situation was atrocious.  It was three-quarters of a mile or so from where we parked to the gate.  Worse, after we got to the truck, it took us two hours to get home (we live five miles from the airport), including a period of 50 minutes during which we moved about ten feet.

Bitch, bitch, bitch.  Seriously, that was the worst event parking planning I’ve ever experienced.  Responsible parties should be ashamed of themselves.

On the good side, we saw a lot of cool hardware, both on the ground and in the air, and I got to hang out with Tami.  Lea sees her on girls’ night out, but I hadn’t seen her since we worked together ten years ago.  It was fun catching up.

Incidentally, if you’re a scanner listener and you’re planning to attend tomorrow, let me know.  I assembled a frequency list this morning from several online sources that wound up being good for the Golden Knights parachute team, and fantastic for the Blue Angels.  It was exciting listening to the “show behind the show”—and a lot of the Angels’ comms were downright amusing.  Send me email and I’ll give you my list.

Here are the boys in the cockpit of an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior:

The A-10 “Warthog” and a P-51 Mustang on a USAF “heritage flight”:

The B-25J World War II-era medium bomber:

“Fat Albert,” the C-130 that carries fuel, equipment, and crew for the Blue Angels:

The Blue Angels being the Blue Angels:

 Posted by at 8:32 pm
Jun 272008

There is almost no such thing as perfect automotive body work.  In fact, it is so rare at an everyday consumer level (i.e., excluding mega-dollar custom shops) that it can reasonably be said to be nonexistent.  If you know what to look for, you’ll always find something that tips it off.

Unfortunately (and fortunately), I know what to look for.  Pretty much since I could walk, I was accompanying my dad to car shows, auctions, and body shops, and he taught me well.  My skills were further honed looking at potential trade-ins when I was selling cars for a living, thanks to Ken’s tutelage.  If I ask you whether your car’s had body work, you better not try to bullshit me, because if it has and you say it hasn’t, I’ll bust your ass every single time.  And that’s not good for your negotiating position whatsoever, now is it?  Heh.

We got Lea’s minivan back tonight.  It’s not bad work.  Plenty is right with it.  But the interface between the rear quarter panel and the sliding door isn’t quite correct.  The panel gap is fine, but there is a slight contour that they missed.  I can feel it.  And now that I know it’s there, I can see it.

Understand, this is subtle—far too subtle to show you in a photograph.  You’d say “huh?”  You’d almost certainly do the same thing in person.  In fact, I could tell you where the problem was in person, and odds are you’d still say “huh?”  To the populace at large, the problem isn’t there.  I only know it’s there because of my background.

I have little doubt that I could take it back to the body shop and show it to them, and get it fixed.  But it occurs to me that this is a “personal growth opportunity.”  (I had a boss 10 years ago who referred to any bullshit task she wanted you to perform thusly.)  I’ve gotten plenty philosophical about a great many things since I got married, and especially since we had children.  And I’ve determined that relaxing standards for things that don’t really matter is a key component of my ultimate happiness.  Said relaxation hasn’t yet fully extended to automotive matters.  Here is a window.

Dig:  This is a utility vehicle, in some ways even more so than my pickup.  If there is a “child sacrifice” vehicle in our lives, this is it.  We’ve had the Odyssey for four years, and it’s been the vehicle in which drinks have been spilled, and into which riding toys have been run.  It has a few minor wounds that have nothing to do with its recent misadventure on the streets of Pulaski, Tennessee.

Our intention has always been to drive it “until the wheels fall off.”  Said intention was only reinforced when it was damaged, as any vehicle, no matter how well it’s been repaired, takes a resale value hit when it’s had extensive body work.

That intention hasn’t changed.  We demonstrably need a minivan, and this one is paid for, so here we are.  It remains fully capable of performing all duty we require of it, so require we shall, and look back we shall not.  I’m leaving it alone.  (There is one post-repair ding that a paintless dent repair guy is coming to fix next week, but I’m talking about the panel inconsistency.)  I am doing so in the pursuit of serenity.  It is good enough, particularly given this car’s lot in life.

Grow, Bo.  Grow.

 Posted by at 6:55 pm
Jun 262008
  • The Blue Angels are here.  The show is this weekend, but I can see them practicing from my house, from work, and from all points in between.  Cool.
  • I’m getting excited about football starting, but I can do without starting linebackers selling cocaine in the parking lot of the football complex.  Please, no more of that.
  • On a whim a couple of nights ago, I made my butt talk to Aaron, Ace Ventura-style.  This is now requested unendingly.
  • Real men go home to their wives.
  • I have had quite enough of more than one person close to me marinating in misery endlessly.  Knock it the fuck off.  There is nothing more to understand, and I’m tired of hearing about it.  Everyone is.  Pick yourself up and start living again.  You have the power.
  • We’re discussing George Orwell’s masterpiece 1984 at Dark and Stormy on Sunday night at 8 CDT.  That’s right, dudes and dolls—we’re in prime time this month.  Aw, yeah.  Be there.
  • Lea’s van is supposed to be ready tomorrow.  I’m looking forward to commuting in the Versa next week.
  • Tried the new Vietnamese place with Melanie today.  It is worthy, and it is less than half the distance from my house that the other one is (6 miles vs. 14, roughly).  I think there shall be pho for weekend lunch in the near future.
  • Looking forward to the Firestone Indy 200.  So is Nathan.  We’ll see you there.
  • I am pleased to report that the new Def Leppard album Songs from the Sparkle Lounge is the real deal, with no apologies or qualifications necessary.  Also, Nostradamus from Judas Priest is incredible.  Haven’t picked up Saints of Los Angeles from the Crüe yet.  2008 or 1988?
 Posted by at 7:33 pm
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