The Idiocracy Files #2: Florida church vows to burn Qurans on September 11th

September 3, 2010

First off, I’d like to apologize to my readers (all 4-5 of you) for the delay in which I’m posting this. I meant for this to be the first entry in “The Idiocracy Files”, but the Snazzy Napper just seemed like a much easier write-up. At least I’m making sure to post this up before September 11th

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past several weeks, you’ve no doubt heard about the controversial Islamic cultural center (the space was formerly a Burlington Coat Factory) to be built a proposed two blocks away from Ground Zero. The very idea of an Islamic center in such close proximity to the site of the most devastating terrorist attack on American soil (carried out by Muslim extremists) has understandably set off a rash of controversy with individuals both for and against the site. I wish I could say this is an isolated incident, but unfortunately separate protests against proposed mosques in Staten Island, NY, Murfreesboro, TN, Wilson, WI & Temecula, CA (allow me to go off on a tangent here – SERIOUSLY CALIFORNIA?!? For years you’ve been the Republican’s go-to state for “out of touch liberal policies”! Why the sudden change of heart?) point towards a growing Islamophobia in the United States.

The following story was brought to my attention through the Huffington Post by way of MSN:

Fire officials in Gainesville, Fla., have denied a permit to a church that wants to burn Qurans on Sept. 11, but church officials said they’ll go ahead with the protest that has garnered worldwide attention.

Leaders of the Dove World Outreach Center say “Islam is of the Devil” and plan to burn copies of the Islamic holy book on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Gene Prince, interim chief of Gainesville Fire Rescue, told The Gainesville Sun that he informed the church on Tuesday (Aug. 17) that the protest violates local fire-prevention laws, which include rules against burning corrugate cardboard or office paper, which includes books.
“It wouldn’t matter what the book is they’re burning,” Deputy Chief Tim Hayes told the newspaper.

Regardless, the church sent out an e-mail vowing to go burn the books anyway. “City of Gainesville denies burn permit — BUT WE WILL STILL BURN KORANS,” The Sun reported.

The church’s website includes a list of 10 reasons to burn the Quran, including “Islamic Law is totalitarian in nature,” Islamic teaching contains “irrational fear and loathing of the West” and that the Quran teaches that Jesus “was NOT the Son of God.”

Obviously, first seeing this article forced me to do further research on this Dove World Outreach Center (come to think of it, isn’t the dove a symbol of peace? Naming yourself after a peaceful bird and then turning around and vowing to burn books strikes me as pretty violent). Turns out that they have their own website, http://www.doveworld.org, complete with its own mission statement:

Dove World Outreach Center is a New Testament Church – based on the Bible, the Word of God.

We believe that God is calling a new generation in this end time – a generation of believers that is yielded to his Word and his will.

Our Land needs strong churches that understand and fulfill God’s vision of restoration and reformation, churches that are able to handle the revival we will see this century with the apostolic anointing, and bring Godly changes to our entire society.

God has a plan for your life! And we want you to be able to recognize your destiny.
God loves you and he longs for a real and deep relationship with you. He created you on purpose and it’s his desire that everyone knows and fulfills his calling.

Dr. Terry and Sylvia Jones
– Senior Pastors of
Dove World Outreach Center –

The first clue to the absolute insanity of this church is the “end time” bit – these people actually think the world is spiraling towards an imminent apocalypse. People thought the same thing during the plague – and yet civilization continued. Come to think of it, life was countless times over worse during the plague. Secondly, is this Terry Jones REALLY a doctor? Or is he a “doctor” in the Hunter S. Thompson sense, in that he just started calling himself a doctor? And if he really is a doctor, what kind of university awarded this asshole a doctorate? Liberty University?!?

I hate to be cliché, and I think comparing your opponents to Nazis is just as weak as comparing them to Socialists – but I can’t think of any other group that advocated burning books. Therefore, it places this church in sorry company. Honestly, I eagerly await the news of mass arrests for deliberately disobeying the city of Gainesville’s fire-prevention laws.

I take great issue with the Dove World Outreach Center’s reasons for burning the Quran. “Islamic law is totalitarian in nature” – “Islam” literally means “to submit” and a Muslim is “one who submits”, therefore it easy to misconstrue Islamic laws/customs as “totalitarian”. Most troubling is the section stating that “the Quran states that Jesus was NOT the son of God”. You know who else believes that? Every religion that isn’t Christianity!!! Following that logic, where are the days to burn Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, etc. religious texts?

Now, growing up in Texas, I was raised Baptist and often went to church on Sundays and sometimes Wednesdays. I don’t remember everything about it because I wasn’t great at paying attention in bible study, but I don’t recall any part of the New Testament where Jesus says it’s kosher to burn the holy book of another religion. That doesn’t really fit in with the whole “love thy neighbor” or “turn the other cheek” thought process. But then again, people cherry picking their religion isn’t exactly a new phenomenon.

Guess I better start looking at apartment rates in Barcelona, or maybe Buenos Aires….

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The Idiocracy Files #1: Snazzy Napper

August 26, 2010

Mike Judge’s 2006 satirical comedy “Idiocracy” is a film that submits the idea that in our modern society, natural selection has become indifferent towards intelligence. In a society where intelligence is debased, stupid people easily out-breed the intelligent. In the film, Luke Wilson is frozen in time and arrives in the year 2505, a dystopia where advertising, commercialism and cultural anti-intellectualism run rampant, resulting in a uniformly stupid society. Besides being a shameless title combination of “Idiocracy” & “The X-Files”, “The Idiocracy Files” is a feature highlighting news stories, products, or any other thing that Bryan feels is driving his country closer towards the scenarios depicted in the future world of “Idiocracy”.

Merriam-Webster defines the word “snazzy” as follows:
snazzy (snaz•zy, adj.) – conspicuously or flashily attractive

Therein lies the first problem of the newly devised “snazzy napper”: it is neither conspicuous (because honestly, how conspicuous could this thing be? I’m leaning somewhere towards .01% conspicuous) nor is it attractive in any way, shape or form.

In case you’re unfamiliar with this product, I submit to you this commercial –

I first discovered the “Snazzy Napper” through that very same YouTube video that a friend, as well as his wife, posted on Facebook. My initial reaction was “OK, this can’t actually be real. This has to be some kind of joke.” However, the website advertised on the commercial forced me to further investigate the matter. And much to my own personal horror, this is an actual thing.

So it appears to me that they’re marketing this product to the modern day businessperson on the go: “Use it in a car”, “Use it on a plane”. While they do not say it in the video, it’s very clear to me that this is being marketed to the type of people who have a problem falling asleep during the daytime, due to the glare of the sun coming through car or plane windows. What kind of wimpy complaint is that, and does it really necessitate the creation of something as utterly ridiculous looking as this? Does the benefit of not having the sun in your eyes really outweigh how mind bogglingly stupid you will look wearing this thing? I’ve always felt that if you’re tired enough, you can fall asleep just about anywhere, but then again I’m a heavy sleeper.

My main problem with the “Snazzy Napper” is that looks exactly like….a burqa. The “original snazzy only” (as the website describes it – and only $14.99, by the way!) looks like they took a burqa and turned it into a sort of sleep-bib-burqa hybrid. On the other hand, the “extra large” (only $24.99!), besides looking like a full on burqa, also looks like the bastard child of the original snazzy and a Snuggie.

As if it’s not bad enough that you essentially look like a Muslim woman living under Taliban rule in Afghanistan when you wear this thing, the makers decided to take it….to the next possible level. Not content to merely leave it plain, they elected to “snazzy” it up by adding god-awful designs to the monstrosities. The original gets a sheep wearing Wayfarers leaping (sheep don’t leap, do they?), and the extra large features the moon sleeping among the stars. So not only do you look like you’re wearing a burqa….you look like you’re wearing a burqa with children’s clothing designs on it.

What kind of LSD-fueled board meeting was this thing thought up in? “You guys know what a burqa is? We can cut down on it and sell it to people as a way to sleep during the day and block out those bothersome sun rays! Or we can keep it long, ‘cause people eat that Snuggie shit right up! The name ‘Napper’ sounds good for it, right? Well, here’s the best parts…we’ll throw cartoons on it and call it a ‘Snazzy Napper’!”

In my opinion, the “Snazzy Napper” is so atrocious that it makes the Snuggie look like a human accomplishment on the same level as discovering gravity or walking on the moon. Guess I better start listening to all of those “Learn Spanish” podcasts I’ve download through iTunes…

In semi-related news, I was in Houston last Friday (8/19/10) far out on Westheimer, near the Westin Oaks Mall. I spotted a Muslim couple in their vehicle (ostensibly driving to mosque, it was nearing night time and Friday is the Muslim Sabbath). Now the wife was driving and wearing a burqa. I have to imagine that has to be hell on your peripheral vision.

One last thing to ponder: Doesn’t the word “snazzy” just make you incredibly angry when you either read it or say it? I feel like that word must have been invented during some dark time in the 80’s or 90’s.

Bureaucrazy, Chapter #2: “Blood Red Blood”, Part 1

August 12, 2010

So I’m pulling a New Hope on everyone and dropping them in the middle of Bureaucrazy a new feature/book I’m working on about my last year and a half in the Army. I alluded to it in a Reader’s Update back in July but now that I have more free time than I know what to do with, I’m finally transferring old notes/journal entries to Word files. Feedback is encouraged/appreciated for this because of all the things I write for this blog this is probably the nearest & dearest to me. Yes, even more than the feature about my beloved Cowboys. – Bryan

06-04-10:

3:30 A.M.

Woke up. Didn’t bother with a shower since I knew 6 to 8 hours of the day would be spent asleep on a bus. Changed into my Army Combat Uniform (ACU’s) – this is basically all I’ll be wearing for a month. That’s one of the slight advantages of being deployed – you never have to spend time figuring out what to wear in the morning, because it’s the same thing every day. Then again, that’s also a disadvantage.

When I put on my uniform this morning, I did something I hadn’t done in nearly two years – I put my dog tags on. I had gotten by for the longest time by just keeping them in one of my pockets, the way I like for it to be. Whenever I wear them, it feels like the oppression of the Army is burning down on my chest. The only reason I’m even wearing them is because an order came down that everyone has to wear them during this brief deployment.

When I first entered the Army, I was disappointed to discover that they were calling them “ID tags”. Yes, during boot camp that’s what they were called – they could dehumanize us in all kinds of other ways, but anytime a soldier called them “dog tags” they received a stern “they’re called ID TAGS!” from one of the drill sergeants. But that was all part of the kinder, gentler Army. However, I never hear anyone refer to them as ID tags in my unit.

Another interesting note about dog tags is that they are always worn under your shirt. Dog tags worn on the outside of the shirt symbolizes that a soldier is dead. Whenever I am out among civilians and I see someone wearing dog tags outside of their shirt, I have to fight back the urge to yell “Don’t you know that means you’re dead?!?” at them.

3.50 A.M.

Left my room, went to the arms room (where all of the weapons are stored) & withdrew my rifle, or ‘weapon’ as we call it. In boot camp we’re taught that we are ‘warriors’ (which includes memorizing a “Warrior Ethos”) so I’ve always told myself that “warriors use weapons”. It helped make it a lot easier to remember to refer to the thing as a weapon. The particular rifle I’m assigned is an M16A4, but it’s more commonly known by the nickname “musket”. That’s due to its large size, especially in comparison to the M4 that the combat (infantry, armor, artillery) troops receive.

I wouldn’t mind an M4 myself, but I understand why I’m stuck with the musket. My job is to be a desk jockey for the Army, so I’m not going on 12-hour combat patrols every day, if ever. If I’m ever using my rifle in Iraq, it would be one of two possible situations. The first would be at a shooting range, since we have to re-qualify on our weapons every six months. The Army can’t have a bunch of soldiers running around that can’t hit the broad side of a barn. The other situation is that the unit is in deep shit. And by that I mean insurgents will be inside our battalion headquarters, having already penetrated the base defenses and made it past several lines of troops. This has to my knowledge never happened during the entire time the U.S. has been in Iraq.

8:00 A.M.

So after withdrawing my weapon I get treated to several hours of the Army’s ever present “hurry up and wait” program. What that means is waking up at the butt crack of dawn and then waiting hours upon hours for something to happen. I had my name read off of rosters at least five times by my count. I then loaded my gear onto a truck that would follow us to Louisiana. I then sat on a bus for what felt like eons before we finally took off at 7:55 A.M.

I have done this ride before from Fort (Ft.) Hood to Ft. Polk. It was over two years ago…March 2008. At that time, I was an E2 (Private Second Class) just barely out of analyst’s school and I was still learning what it was like to do my job in a deployed environment. Now it’s over two years later and I’m an E4 (Specialist) with one deployment to Iraq under my belt. The experience I’ve gained should make this Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) rotation much smoother than the last one.

The ride from Ft. Hood to Ft. Polk is not a particularly interesting or exciting one. I plan on listening to my iPod & catching up on the sleep I missed out on last night during it.

10:15 A.M.

We’re on a 45 minute stop in Centerville, TX. I’m at the Dairy Queen waiting on some food. I was at this same restaurant over two years ago, when my unit was returning from Ft. Polk. Things have a strange way of coming full circle, especially when you’re in the Army. I didn’t get much sleep on the way up here. Either my music or our surroundings or the sun or possibly a combination of those things kept me up. Then again, it could have been the backpack of classified material sitting at my feet. That cursed backpack prevented me from sitting in any kind of position that resembled comfort.

3:40 P.M.

We finally made it to Ft. Polk. I started reading “The Invisible Nation” after we left Centerville. It’s about the Kurdish struggle for an independent state – they’re the largest ethnic group without their own country. It really puts your life in perspective when you read about the harsh lives the Kurds have lived. The book is required reading for my section, so I figured this month was the best time to read it. It’s not like I’ll be doing anything else during the hour or two I’ll have to myself every night out here.

I managed to get some sleep on the second leg of our journey – I’d estimate it was about three hours’ worth, tops. That ought to hold me over until tonight.

END OF PART 1

I’m trying to split up the chapters into bite-sized entries so each part won’t go very far over about 1,000 words.

Blue, White & Silver Forever #2: Cowboys 16, Bungles 7 (PRESEASON)

August 10, 2010

2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game

On Sunday, August 8th, 2010, the Cincinnati Bengals played the Dallas Cowboys at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio for the 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game. The 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees (Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson, Dick LeBeau, Floyd Little, John Randle, Jerry Rice, and saving the best for last, Emmitt Smith) took the field prior to a game in which the Cowboys defeated the Bengals 16 to 7.

While I did take the time to drive over to a co-worker’s to catch the game, the final score actually didn’t matter that much to me. That was mostly because I left after the second quarter since preseason football is so unbearably bad and watching too much of it makes me want to claw my eyes out. However, two things attracted me to it in the first place: 1). The fact that football hadn’t been on TV in half a year (Super Bowl XLIV was played on February 7th, 2010) and 2). To get a sneak peek at how the ‘Boys are going to look this upcoming season. The following are some random observations of mine from what I watched of the game:

• Bengals Wide Receivers and well known prima donnas Terrell Owens (a former Dallas Cowboy) and Chad (sic) Ochocinco (formerly known as Chad Johnson) were interviewed before the game about how two “#1 receivers” could possibly co-exist on the same team. I can’t remember which of them said it (damn my developing note taking skills!), but the choice quote was “I’m Batman, he’s Robin.” Yeah, we’ll see how long those two are singing that tune.

• I really enjoyed seeing the new addition to the Cowboys cheerleaders, Dez Bryant, on the sidelines. Bryant suffered a leg injury on the second to the last play of a practice several weeks ago and was sporting a full leg cast. However, he’s expected to be good to play for the September 12th season opening game against the Washington Redskins.

• Cincinnati ruined a golden opportunity (fumble recovery in the Cowboys’ end zone) by getting called off sides. Don’t you change, Bungles. There were 16 penalties called in all in a sloppy game – 12 of them belonging to Cincinnati. However, after getting the ball back on the 2, Dallas went three straight plays without coming close to a touchdown before settling for a field goal.

• The majority of scoring for the Cowboys was done by kicker David Buehler (a.k.a.BUEHLER…..BUEHLER….BUEHLER?!?). Buehler connected on field goals from 20, 34 and 23 yards out, to go along with a miss for 49 yards out. Our kicking situation is something I’m concerned about because, if my memory serves me correctly, the Cowboys were 1st in the league last season in missed field goals with 11 (10 of those coming from Nick Folk, who was waived last season and now plays for the New York Jets). I sincerely hope that Buehler proves himself to be a worthy replacement over that bum.

• Wide receiver Patrick Crayton, who I’d half expected to have been traded by now, pleasantly surprised me by actually playing for his spot in the game. Unlike, Roy Williams, who expects the red carpet to just be laid out for him. Then again, with what we gave up for (and how much we’re paying) Williams, I can sort of understand that.

• The defense looked good on the first series, which coincidentally was the only series where all of the starters played. Then again, I’m not sold on Cincinnati’s offense. I know a lot of people were impressed with the Terrell Owens singing, but it’s not like the guy can also throw the ball to himself. Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer has just never impressed me, and I still consider last season a fluke. While the Bengals were 6-0 in the AFC North, there were 5-5 in games outside of their division, so they were essentially a .500 team whenever they played outside of the AFC North.

John Phillips had several nice catches (including one on an underhand throw)…but backup quarterback Jon Kitna is pure garbage. Watching Kitna under throw, over throw or run around the field like a scared child was part of what motivated me to quit watching the game. Tony Romo seriously needs to be Iron Man this upcoming season, because the Cowboys simply cannot have Kitna playing any meaningful minutes.

• The 50th anniversary patches on the uniforms look good, since they actually mean something – 5 Super Bowl victories, 21 division titles, countless playoff appearances, a streak of 20 consecutive winning seasons (a record the remains unbroken and unchallenged), and plenty of legendary coaches and players. This is opposed to the Houston Astros, whose current 45th anniversary patches just symbolize year after year of disappointment.

• I know this will come across as sexist, but sideline reporter Andrea Kremer is showing some significant signs of wear and tear and is in dire need of a replacement. Maybe Erin Andrews is tired of all the catcalls she gets working college games and would like a promotion to the big leagues?

• Former Texas Longhorns wide receiver Jordan Shipley as a Bengal….the only word the really applies to the situation is “unfortunate”. Sort of like former Texas Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy’s situation on that other team on the opposite side of Ohio….the Cleveland Browns.

• Oddly enough, the best for the Cowboys was the induction of former running back Emmitt Smith into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, thus ensuring that each member of the 90’s Cowboy dynasty’s “Triplets” (quarterback Troy Aikman, wide receiver Michael Irvin and Smith) is now a member of the Hall of Fame. Emmitt gave a moving, off the cuff, 24 minute speech. Below is the first part of said speech:

Weird Music Sunday: My Barbarian’s “Unicorns L.A.”

August 8, 2010

Today’s edition of “Weird Music Sunday” is going up a little earlier than it normally would, because I’ll soon be headed to a co-worker’s house to catch the Cowboys play the Bengals in the “NFL Hall of Fame Game”. Expect a post about that under the “Blue, White & Silver Forever” banner in the next few days.

I’m sort of stretching this selection by calling it music – while it IS a song, My Barbarian is a Los Angeles-based performance group instead of an actual band. However, I’m not holding that against them – the video appears to be a parody of LARP groups (Live Action Role Playing – picture dressing up and playing Dungeons & Dragons outside instead of in your parent’s basement), complete with shoestring budget production values and laughable home movie maker special effects. Plus, the upbeat section that begins at about the 3:30 mark has been stuck in my head for the last several days. Add it all together and you’ve got some weird yet entertaining music.

Enjoy –

Weird Music Sunday: Mahmoud Awad’s “Sheikh to the Future”

August 1, 2010

Straight from the internet to your living room/bed room/wherever you keep your computer comes Mahmoud Awad’s “Sheikh to the Future”, brought to my attention by 4chan’s /mu/ or “music” sub forum.

The little bit I’ve heard from the album sounds like a combination of Islamism, hard drugs & electronic music. Any internet searches that could shed light on the album’s origins or Mahmoud Awad just turned up downloads for the album, message board or blog posts about the album, and an ominous Facebook fan page that says the music was sent back in time from the future.

For an idea of the insanity contained in this album, give a listen to 7 minute+ long “Fire And Earth” (at your utmost caution):

I bet listening to this album is some kind of bizarre rite of passage from youth into adulthood for Saudi Arabian boys.

Brave internet souls are encouraged to give the album a download and listen to it in it’s entirety. If the Army won’t allow me to take drugs, I’ll at least listen to music that makes me feel like I’m on them.

Taming the iTunes Beast, Entry No. 5: “Living Thing”

August 1, 2010

(Before I can begin the review of this album, I want to write a brief disclaimer. Perhaps I didn’t explain myself eloquently enough in the original entry for this blog feature. My last album review riled up a certain individual – no disrespect to Mr. Austin Hambrick, the author/illustrator for web comic “Just Like Honey” (check it out!) – who took offense to an album from one of his favorite bands receiving a C rating. The title of this blog is “Just One Man’s Opinion” and therefore reflects my prejudices on what (in my opinion!) good music should sound like. Furthermore, my duties with the Army don’t exactly allow me a lot of time to devote to each album I review, and I’ve got another nearly 95 GB of music to wade through for this feature. That being said, I do enjoy any discussions these album reviews generate, whether they be good or bad. I just ask that people take all of those things into account before getting angry about an album review on a blog that hasn’t even been viewed by 20 different people yet. – Bryan.)

Artist: Peter, Bjorn & John
Album: “Living Thing”
Genre: Indie Pop
Sounds like: Everybody’s favorite Swedes try a stripped-down, Spoon-like sound…with mixed results.

Review:

Hailing from the faraway Scandinavian country of Sweden, Peter, Bjorn & John (hereafter referred to by the popular abbreviation ‘PB&J’) formed in 1999 in Stockholm, taking their name from the band’s three members: Peter Moren (guitar), Bjorn Yttling (bass/keyboard) & John Eriksson (drums). Influenced by the sounds of ‘60’s baroque pop, power pop and new wave, they released several fine albums that culminated in their masterpiece, 2006’s Writer’s Block, an album that sounds like what I imagine the experience of living in Europe is like.

However, instead of continuing on the great sound produced by that album (if such a feat was even possible), PB&J decided to go a different route with their music. Their follow-up album, Seaside Rock, was an instrumental record that sounded like a Scandinavian version of the Super Mario World soundtrack. Living Thing, their fifth album, is even more confounding.

Living Thing is a decidedly darker sounding album, significantly less upbeat than PB&J’s initial albums. For starters, the band focuses the bulk of the album on just percussion and voices, with guitars and basses used sparingly throughout. It all amounts to what I view as stripped-down sound not unlike Austin band Spoon. However, unlike Spoon, who have utilized the approach going all the way back to 2001’s Girls Can Tell, this represents a complete 180 for PB&J. The closest comparison I can think of is Scott Walker abandoning pop music to release avant-garde garbage albums every dozen years.

Listening to this album is like a futile attempt at waiting for a good album to suddenly start happening. When I first heard the intro “The Feeling” (consisting of merely vocals and bizarre, unusual forms of percussion – a mixture of hand claps and what sounded like synth drums) I tried to reassure myself by thinking “surely this is just for the intro! The rest of the album will be alright!”

That track then segues into the excellent, 80’s (think New Order) influenced “It Don’t Move Me”. Over a propulsive, dance-ish beat, Peter Moren sings about a rapidly disintegrating relationship. The song truly peaks during the moments of its simultaneously catchy and depressing chorus:

When history is done
And everything is over
What used to keep us warm
Is slowly getting colder
There’s nothing to explain
It’s hard to stay the same
History is done
And everything is gone

It’s one of the high points of the album, and given a little more instrumentation, probably could have fit alongside the material on Writer’s Block. However, the next track, “Just The Past” doesn’t fare so well, a sparse song that sounds like it could have been recorded in a factory. The next several tracks aren’t much better than that, either. “Nothing to Worry About”, which shows just how far off the deep end this band has gone (it was the first single released off the album) prominently features incredibly nagging, exaggerated children’s voices in the song’s chorus. “I’m Losing My Mind” is yet another barren soundscape, relying mostly on an “AHH-AH-AHH!” in the background that is likely to cause the listener to feel like they’ll lose their mind if they have to hear it one more time over.

Halfway through the album PB&J find their footing again with the terrific, catchy “Living Thing”, a song that explodes into a joyous celebration (strangely enough through just repeating “It’s a living thing!” ad nauseam) midway that so many of the other songs only seem to hint at. After that, the album again suffers from an abysmal several songs. Whoever sings on “I Want You” (the internet was not able to help me pinpoint exactly which member sang on each song) is an incredibly vanilla singer, his voice coming up flat during what are supposed to be the high points of the song. While an appearance every now and then from Bjorn or John on Writer’s Block worked well enough, having them sing about half of the songs on this album equates to what would have happened if the Beatles decided it would be a good idea to have Ringo sing half of The White Album. With the first lyrics of “Lay It Down” being “Hey, shut the f— up boy!”, the track takes on an air of self-parody and becomes impossible to listen to with a straight face on or without at least feeling some type of discomfort. Listening to “Stay This Way” got my blood boiling, wondering why PB&J couldn’t play something besides just keyboard for the song.

“Blue Period Picasso”, the last worthwhile song of the album (as the 10th track out of 12, I almost want to give this song a “better late than never” label), features the type of name checking (in this case, Barcelona) that was prominent on Writer’s Block. Over icy synths, Peter compares himself to a work from Picasso’s “developmental period” on display in a Barcelonan building, waiting to be stolen away from his lonely perch by his lover. Quite honestly, if they’d had more songs like this on the album, I’d like it loads better.

Finally, the two songs that round out the album continue the theme of my personal disappointment with PB&J’s new musical direction. “4 Out of 5” features the lazy songwriting device of having a significant portion of the lyrics involve counting up to the number 5. By the time I reached the album’s conclusion “Last Night”, I was merely left wondering why the other members kept getting songs on this album.

While their first three albums ranged from good to great, I just can’t embrace this bizarre new direction for the band. I understand that giving more tracks to Bjorn & John will help to keep the band around longer, but I feel that Peter Moren is unquestionably the band’s best singer (insofar as one can be the best singer of a band that operates in their second language) and part of what made their first couple of albums so good was his presence on all or the majority of the songs. The shadow of Writer’s Block looms large over this album, partly because it was my introduction to PB&J, and partly because it represented what I thought were the best aspects of music originating in Europe. In my eyes, this album represents the worst aspects of European music. I don’t expect to pick up the next album from these guys if it’s in the same mold as this one, which I’m forced to give a…

Rating: C-

Download: “It Don’t Move Me”, “Living Thing”, “Blue Period Picasso”

Changes: Delete this album (my new personal rule is to merely delete an album that doesn’t warrant at least a B-. Because why settle for having mediocrity around?)

iTunes count after changes: 16,944 songs. 436 artists. 1,158 albums. 45 days, 20 hours, 19 minutes, 41 seconds total time. 94.55 Gigabytes. (Yes, I’ve deleted some stuff as well as added some stuff and I haven’t documented it on my blog. So sue me.)

Blue, White & Silver Forever #1: Urge to Buy Dez Bryant Jersey Rising

July 26, 2010

Bryan, being a native Texan, obviously loves following the game of football. A third generation fan of the Dallas Cowboys, “Blue, White & Silver Forever” is a feature concerning the Cowboys, a source of great joy as well as frustration for the author every Sunday (and the occasional Monday night…as well as Saturday or Thursday night) during football season.


Dez Bryant laughs at Roy Williams’ order for Bryant to carry his pads.

Cowboys first-round pick, WR Dez Bryant of Oklahoma State, a young man I typically refer to as the “Amar’e Stoudemire of football”, keeps doing things to make me like him more and more.

First, he goes out of his way to endear himself to QB Tony Romo, saying his job is to “make [Tony] Romo believe in me.” That certainly is a direct opposite of the actions that came from The Cancer Known as Terrell Owens. Better yet, he’s running precise routes and attempting to understand how Romo expects adjustments to be made. Roy Williams, who Bryant is competing with for a starting spot, hasn’t done that in two and a half years.

Second, bucking the trend of rookie hazing, Bryant refused to carry Williams’ pads. This just makes me love the kid more. Rookie hazing is the same kind of outdated crap as coaches beating up players or locking them in sheds, and the sooner it goes the way of the dinosaurs, the better.

Also, Roy Williams flat out sucks. Since October 14, 2008, when Dallas traded their first, third and sixth round picks in the 2009 NFL draft to Detroit for Williams (and a seventh round pick), he has caught a pedestrian 17 & 38 passes in his two seasons with Dallas. The sooner Dez replaces him as a starter, the better it will be for the ‘Boys and their fans.

I can’t speak for every Cowboys fan, but I certainly want a Dez Bryant jersey to join my collection of Cowboys jerseys very soon.

Readers’ Update 07-20-2010: Crisis Averted

July 20, 2010

Dr. Bryan

To my readers (all 10 of you, according to my latest stats I must be doing something right, or at least getting the word out better),

If you’re not able to tell from this post, I’ve managed to fix my computer, and I had to play a little bit of “Dr. Bryan” to get it done. Except for I didn’t really have to.

It turns out my computer was hit with what I call the “AV Security Suite Swindle”. AV Security Suite is a piece of scareware that pretends to be a pre-installed virus scanner on your computer system. The software sends out virus alerts using pop-up windows that imitate Windows’ style, as well as prevents you from opening any other programs and blocks your internet from going anywhere. The software instructs you to upgrade to the full version of AV Security Suite to remove a bunch of phony viruses it’s reporting to you.

The method for removing the software is to just turn off your computer, restart in Safe Mode and conduct a system restore to a date when your computer wasn’t affected with the malware. All great….except when I tried that, my ghetto computer didn’t have any old dates saved, making a system restore impossible. So in the end I was forced to pony up $60 to keep my computer running properly. I try not to get too angry about it, since paying the 60 is better for me in the short run than buying a new computer. I just need my current one to last through another deployment, and then I’ll buy a completely new one as soon as I get back.

Last Week

Last week’s work week was very hectic. We spent most of the week doing a lot of leg work to get our container packed up & ready to be shipped out to Iraq, culminating with it being sealed last Friday afternoon. Several work days ended up going anywhere from a half hour to an hour and a half past the normal “close of business” (5:00 P.M.) hours. My free time each night was typically spent getting together my gear that was going into the container, working out, and most importantly, getting sleep to make it through the next work day. Needless to say, next to no time was spent on the blog.

My weekend trip to Austin was mainly consumed by seeing “Inception” on Friday night, playing basketball on Saturday morning and seeing the Octopus Project live Saturday night followed by some random bar hopping downtown. In addition, plenty of time spent in Austin coffee shops wasn’t conducive to the blog either since I utilized the free wi-fi to primarily check either Facebook or my constantly struggling fantasy baseball team.

Ch-Ch-Changes

There are some slight changes to my forthcoming posts. The next post should be a new feature of the blog I call “Sounding Off.” There’s not a whole lot to explain about it, as it’s just me sounding off on some various current events in the world of sports, sports news, news, celebrity deaths, etc with each post. The promised album reviews & pieces of “Bureaucrazy” from two updates ago will shortly follow that post.

Thanks to everyone of you,

-Bryan

P. S. If you enjoy the blog, please remember to become a fan on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Just-One-Mans-Opinion/103442323043446?ref=mf) in order to get regular updates!

I’ll leave with the video for the L.A. Rams’ “Ram It”. A bunch of NFL teams in the mid-80’s put together these music videos (the most notable being the Chicago Bears’ “Super Bowl Shuffle”) but the Rams’ video is definitely the best. And by best, I mean worst.

Readers’ Update, 07-11-2010: Disaster!

July 11, 2010

The following has been posted using the family computer at my parent’s house in Cypress, TX (Houston suburb)

Waking up at Noon today, the result of staying up late at a party last night and drinking far more than I should have, I went downstairs to turn my computer on and check the internet. While initially running just fine, my computer took a turn for the worse as a strange new anti-virus program warned me of numerous infections, prevented me from going anywhere online, and ultimately causing several blue screens of death whenever I attempted to correct the problem.

Quite honestly, this is both a blessing and a curse. This is a major curveball towards updating my blog as I literally can do nothing on my computer. In the mean time I will likely have to go the unpleasant route of handwriting future blog posts.

However, I have had my laptop for nearly three years, having bought it during my Army job training in Arizona back in the fall of ’07. In fact, I’ve lately been telling myself that I would buy a new laptop for college once my tour of duty in Iraq ends next year. This recent development speeds up the process.

Unfortunately, my bank account isn’t exactly full enough to purchase a new laptop at the moment. I will try every method available short of theft to purchase a new laptop as quickly as possible and return to updating this blog.

My sincerest apologies to my four readers, who I have robbed of new posts through my insistence on using stone age technology.

– Bryan