Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Five Songs, Five Albums

Every time I pick up my guitar lately, there've been about five songs that I feel I have to play each time:

1. Ryan Adams, "Let it Ride." Not to be confused with the BTO song of the same name. It's an up-tempo, meloncholy sort of tune, hell, I'm not really sure what it's about.

2. The Wallflowers, "6th Avenue Heartache." One of the most touching songs about a homeless guy playing a guitar on a street corner ever.

3. They Might Be Giants, "Lucky Ball and Chain." It's fun. It's TMBG. What else need be said?

4. George Harrison, "Isn't it a Pity." One of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard. Harrison just has a knack for writing tunes that are spiritual and human and profound and exceptionally simple. It's also got a couple of the weirdest chords I've ever seen: a C#m7b5/G (has to be the longest chord name ever), a C7/G (which I actually don't usually play), and a chord I don't know the name of that's supposed to be some variation on a G but usually just plays like an A.

Likewise, there are five albums I've been listening to almost constantly over the past few weeks:

1. The Wallflowers, Rebel, Sweetheart. A much better record than their previous effort, Red Letter Days. It's got an amazing set of tunes, and Jakob Dylan's songcraft has only gotten stronger as the years pass.

2. Old 97s, Wreck Your Life. Alt-country at its best. 'Nuff said.

3. Son Volt, Okemah and the Melody of Riot. Former Uncle Tupelo guitarist and vocalist Jay Farrar's band makes some of the best country-rock out there. There's nothing new or different in this record, but it's solid and good music.

4. The Flaming Lips, Transmissions from the Satellite Heart. A transitionary album from their early noise rock to their more recent neo-psychadelic folk-pop. And it's got "She Don't Use Jelly," clearly the oddest song to ever be associated with Beverly Hills 90210.

5. Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. This album just gets better every time I listen to it, and it started out pretty damn good to begin with. Easily one of the best records ever.

Now go forth, my musical disciples, and spread the good news.


Y'know, it's kind of funny how much a person's pespective can alter reality.

For instance, the perspective of someone who lives in New Orleans at the moment is that Hurricane Katrina just came through and wiped out the entire town. That city won't be up and running for two months at least. Our point of view character is having to figure out where he'll live, how he'll replace all the things that were lost (and deal with losing the things which cannot be replaced)...his life is basically in shambles. Hurricane Katrina means a total alteration of the way his life is being lived, a radical and sudden and complete change in his reality.

Meanwhile, my biggest concern with the aftermath of the hurricane up here in Northern Virginia is that we're going to get a little rain and gas prices are going to go up because of the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico that Katrina shut down. I'm inconvenienced by this devastating act of nature, and that's really it. It's a sobering thought.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Captain of the Rant

Welcome to the new rantspace, everyone. Over the next week or two, I'm going to try to archive all of my old postings into this blog, just because. Thankfully, they're all archived in the Forum, which we still have (see link above comic...hint hint).

Anyway, comments should be enabled, so you can make a comment about a comic, about a rant, whatever. You don't even have to be a registered blogger user. Honest. And we always like feedback...well, I do. I can't really speak for the Monkey. He tends to fling poo at anyone he disagrees with.

Looking For Work

Calling A Mulligan

So yeah, Wednesday's strip was complete crap, so I re-drew it. You can still see the old one if you want. Much better on that second panel, right?

Job Finding

I'm employed now at a couple of tutoring places. Still trying for a real teaching job, but at leat I've got some money coming in now. Woo.

Settling In and Job Hunting

Well, I made it to Virginia without any trouble (as evidenced by the fact that the comic has continued to update since my arrival). I'm mostly settled in, and having roommates again is pretty cool (especially when one of them decides she's going to cook you dinner every night. It doesn't get much better than that). The only thing really left for me to do is find myself a job. I've sent out dozens of applications so far, so I figure it's only a matter of time before I get a job (actually have at least one interview this week). I should be employed here in the next week or two, and then I can begin living in a style to which I am not accustomed (i.e., something other than abject poverty).

So far, I like Virginia pretty well. It's a beautiful place, though there are far too many people here for my tastes (and I'm not even all that close to DC, when you think about it. There's Alexandria and a half dozen other suburbs between me and our nation's capitol). Admittedly, I grew up in Oklahoma, so anything more than a dozen people and a cow seems crowded to me (okay, that's not entirely true--there weren't any cows in the town where I grew up. At least, not roaming the streets or anything. There were probably cows in Shawnee, but the only time I ever saw them was in the form of hamburger meat). But I'm getting used to it, and I can drive fairly well in the heavier traffic that seems to be the norm around here (though I still hate how people treat one another while driving...there is absolutely no consideration for your fellow man out there).

But hey, anyone out there who reads the comic who lives in the Fairfax/NoVA area ought to drop me a line and we'll get together. There's bound to be, what, at least a couple of you, maybe? Just email me with the link below, and make sure you put something about Dim Bulb or Crooked Halo in the Subject line so I don't assume it's spam.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Movin' On Up (To Virginia)

The Cricket In Transit

So, I move on the 23rd. It should only take a couple of days to actually get where I'm going, and I've been told I'll have 'net access as soon as I plug my computer in. What this should mean for you, the viewing public, is no interruption of updates. To make sure this is the case, I'm trying to get the next couple of weeks' comics drawn and uploaded before I leave. We'll see how well that works.

Leavin' Betty

It does my heart good to see the Monkey finally bidding farewell to the dreaded Betty. Of course, since he's taking over his mother's job at Ozarks, I'm going to start referring to him simply as "Your Mom." It just seems fitting somehow.

Oh, and Monkey? I don't care how well you think they "rock out" on that Rockstar: INXS show. They're still contestants on a reality TV show, and thus sellouts. Sellouts are incapable of actually rocking out. It's in their contract.

"History Will Teach Us Nothing"

As a history major, there are certain things in popular culture which frustrate and annoy the hell out of me--Jerry Bruckhiemmer "historical" films (such as King Arthur or Pearl Harbor...though Pirates of the Caribbean was fun, mostly because it didn't take itself seriously) and the "works" of Stephen Ambrose are chief among those.

For those of you who don't know, Ambrose was a "historian" who wrote books on popular American history subjects--mostly the Civil War and World War II, in other words. His stuff was very popular with laymen and non-historians for its accessibility and humanity, and many people perceived him as an excellent professional historian.

Thing is, Ambrose was a hack. A well-known hack. See, many of his best-known works--including Band of Brothers--were plagiarized. Heavily. We're talking page after page of text lifted verbatim from other sources and dropped into Ambrose's books without even a citation or by-your-leave. And he apparently never suffered much because of this (mostly because he died of lung cancer not long after it was revealed. I know it's not nice to be joyful at the death of someone else, but I have to admit that I cackled with glee the day I heard he'd kicked it. He did more to set back the profession of history than postmodernism ever did). It really sickens me that some ignorant morons refer to him as "one of the leading historical authors of our time".

But my historical pain does not end there, no. See, there were certain other history majors at my university (and, I'm sure, at most any university you encounter) who were of the opinion that Ambrose was a good historian (I remember one particular dimwit actually using Ambrose as a credible source for a paper. Clif and I only ever cited the guy in an ironic, silly fashion--we knew better than to trust anything that dripped from the hack's pen). These sorts of people (usually guys, I noticed) were history majors of a very different ilk than myself. See, I majored in history because I wanted to be an historian. I wanted to study history for its own sake, understand where we came from and what went before. These gentlemen, though, had other plans--they wanted to be coaches.

Now, virtually every one of my high school history teachers was a coach. I guess coaches usually focused on history in their degree program because they thought it would be easy to "teach" when they got to a school. I mean, you just throw the book in front of the students, make them answer questions at the end of the chapter, give them a multiple choice exam every so hard could it be, right? You could get on with what was really important (i.e., sports) and leave the unimportant stuff (i.e., history) to itself.

And it's crap like that which destroys the fabric of society. Without an understanding of history, we end up with guys like Bush telling us how things went and should go, rewriting things as it suits him in the moment, running the country into the ground.

"But I'm not bitter. No, not at all. Just alot" (Minus 5, "I'm not Bitter").

So yeah, that's where the comic for the 1st of July came from. More crazy hijinks and wacky shenanigans on the 4th.