Sunday, May 24, 2009

Danica Patrick

I am currently watching the Indy 500 and I am routing for Danica Patrick who is currently in fourth place. And I have no shame whatsoever in saying that I am cheering for her simply because she is a woman. For the majority of racing history, the belief that a woman wasn't capable of racing was widespread. To compete as a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field makes you an underdog and I have a soft spot for underdogs.

When I was a child, I was told that the reason there weren't more black quaterbacks in football was because they weren't smart enough. Today, that argument is irrelevant. When Rush Limbaugh accused Colin Powell of voting for Barak Obama simply because he was black, again I saw no problem with that. Diversity is a good thing. Don't think for one second that Republican National Chairman, Michael Steele, wasn't selected because of his race as a means to show that the Republican Party can match the Democratic Party in terms of diversity.

A little girl watching the Indy 500 right now can watch Danica Patrick and believe that she too can be a race car driver some day. The same with a black child watching Obama become elected President of the United States. The more barriers that are broken in our society, the more ignorant-held beliefs become a thing of the past.

P.S. She finished third.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Drozd Effect

Ten years ago this week, The Flaming Lips released one of the greatest albums ever recorded - The Soft Bulletin. If you are somewhat new to the Lips' music, it may be hard to comprehend just how amazing this album sounded upon its release back in 1999 and why its beauty has a lot to do with addition and subtraction.

The Flaming Lips' journey began way back in 1983 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and the only original members remaining are lead singer and guitarist, Wayne Coyne, and bassist, Michael Ivins, who both admit to not being very good musicians. The band went through several lineup changes, but the most notable would occur in 1991 when a talented multi-instrumentalist by the name of Steven Drozd would replace Nathan Roberts on drums. In 1996, guitarist, Ronald Jones, would quit the band because of Drozd's increasing heroin addiction, thus paving the way for Drozd becoming more influential in the Flaming Lips' sound.

The first album with the "Drozd effect" would be the psychedelic classic - Zaireeka - though few people would hear it as it was a four-disc box set meant to be played simultaneously on four separate cd players. However, on May 17, 1999, the "Drozd effect" would turn heads with the release of The Soft Bulletin - an album whose sound was a complete departure from the Flaming Lips' previous "acid-rock" output. The Soft Bulletin came out of left field and it's the defining moment in their 26-year career where a really good band suddenly became great.

For many, the Flaming Lips are defined by the eccentric, down-to-earth frontman - Wayne Coyne - a man, I might add, who can often be found inside of a plastic bubble tumbling over a live audience much to the delight of his fans. However, if you listen to the Flaming Lips' entire discography, it's apparent that the band is defined by the pre-Steven Drozd era and the post-Steven Drozd era and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out which is the best.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Radio Heads

"stop global warming petition: an online petition with over a million names.. including President Obama. currently there is talk of a climate change bill in the US similair to the one we have passed in the UK. thats a BIG deal. but i have been reading how the oil industry is investing millions of dollars in a PR campaign against it! how utterly dumbass is that? how do these people look their children in the eye?
in have now stepped down from todays soapbox. byebye"
-Thom Yorke

The above statement was from a blog written last week by Radiohead's lead singer - Thom Yorke - who is gaining more and more recognition as an advocate of environmental causes. While I do believe that protecting the environment is a noble cause and that Mr. Yorke is sincere in his efforts, I steadfastly refuse to sign this particular petition anytime soon.

It is, more often than not, hard for me to debate environmental issues because I lack the scientific knowledge to make a strong case for or against global warming. And it absolutely aggravates me when the Rush Limbaughs and Sean Hannitys of the world claim that global warming is a hoax when I know that their scientific knowledge of the issue is about as good as mine. However, certain members of the "left" shouldn't get a pat on the back for simply pushing environmental causes when they fail to ask relevant questions in regards to this debate.

The "climate change" bill(H.R. 2454) that Yorke is promoting while calling oil companies "dumbasses" for not supporting it, is a 932-page bill written in legal speak that I'm pretty sure Mr. Yorke has not read himself and, if he did, I'm guessing that he, like myself, would not be able to make heads or tails of it. Why are these bills so damn long, you ask? Because politicians can sneak taxes and pork projects into them without objection because very few people in their right mind possess the patience to read this crap, let alone the knowledge to interpret it.

Do I believe that the human race is capable of destroying the planet? Of course I do and I believe that there is very strong evidence all around us that proves that we actually are destroying the planet. But, every proposal to fix a problem does not necessarily mean that it's a smart solution and, until Thom Yorke or anyone else can break this bill down into a simplified language that I can understand, I won't sign this petition simply because a celebrity tells me to.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Goodbye Solo

Director Ramin Bahrani's Goodbye Solo is a simple, yet well done film about one man's quest to commit suicide and another man's quest to stop him. Very little is revealed and nothing is resolved and yet it works as a sort of window into the dark side of Americana where troubled individuals often times fly under the radar until they decide that they have had enough for reasons unknown to the outside world.

This is not a movie you'll want to see more than once and if you're looking to be entertained, this probably isn't the movie for you. Regardless, Bahrani has made one of the best films of the year. Kudos on the cinematography as well. It may have singlehandedly sold me on a trip to North Carolina.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Two years ago, Congress ordered a massive increase in ethanol use while stipulating that the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) must first prove that it produces less pollution related to global warming than would gasoline. Now, at last, the EPA is finally approaching the point where they will propose ethanol standards. Environmental issues, to be quite honest, really don't hold my attention the way other issues do, but the issue of ethanol fascinates me in that it has got to be one of the worst environmental ideas around.

Ethanol is an alcohol-based fuel made by fermenting and distilling crops that have been broken down into simple sugars. In the US, ethanol is made mostly from corn. It's being touted as a cleaner-burning fuel source for automobiles as well as a necessity in helping to end our dependence on foreign oil.

According to, it would take about 26 pounds of corn to make 1 gallon of ethanol. Now, imagine all of the vehicles out there that run on fuel and the amount of land you would need to produce this stuff as well as the amount of petroleum-based energy AND water that is required to produce corn crops in the first place and you have one huge environmental nightmare. Oh, did I mention the fact that the price of corn, which is one of the largest staples in the world's food supply, would skyrocket to catastrophic proportions as a result of the incredible demand placed on it as an energy substitute?

Why would someone support such a ridiculous idea in the first place, you ask? Look no further than the agricultural industry that stands to reap huge profits on a bushel of b.s., as well as lawmakers who will push any idea that comes with a check from lobbyists for "reelection" purposes.

Friday, May 1, 2009


Let me preface this by saying that I have all the respect in the world for Spoon's lead singer - Britt Daniels. No matter where this guy moves off to, the city of Austin will always claim this guy as their own because he's highly respected here and, when all is said and done, people will look back at this decade and say that Spoon was one of the best bands around. Period. So it pains me to nit pick, but here it goes - Spoon is hosting their very own three-day music fest - SpoonX3 - which takes place on July 9-11 here in Austin at Stubbs. They are headlining every night. The problem I have is that four of the six other bands playing are Austin bands - The Strange Boys, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, Trail of the Dead, and Dale Watson. For those of us who live here, we can see these bands on a pretty consistent basis. If you were hosting a fest outside of Austin, this would be a great lineup to represent our city. Britt Daniels is an indie music heavyweight and I'm pretty sure he could pencil in pretty much whoever he wanted to play his fest. Regardless, he still gets points in my book for lining up Atlas Sound on the bill as well as the criminally underrated country outsider - Dale Watson. You have eclectic tastes in music, Mr. Daniels, just next time please ease up on the local acts.